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Rochester, MN – At the School Board meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, Superintendent Kent Pekel will be sharing detailed information about the Attendance Options Redesign proposal. The Attendance Options Redesign proposal is a comprehensive strategy for changing school attendance options, attendance boundaries and the transportation system at Rochester Public Schools (RPS). The ten-point proposal must be approved by the Rochester School Board before February 1, 2024, to enable RPS to implement new school start and end times for the next school year.

“The Attendance Options Redesign proposal is the result of two years of planning and analysis,” says Superintendent Pekel. “While the narrow failure of the technology referendum that Rochester Public Schools placed on the ballot on November 7, 2023, increases the urgency of finding savings in the school district’s transportation budget and in every other area of the district’s work, this proposal is not a kneejerk reaction to the defeat of the referendum earlier this month.”

The ten points are listed below. Detailed summaries of each point can be found on our website at

  1. Redesign School Attendance Areas: All schools in RPS, other than a set of specialized programs, would have a geographically defined attendance area, and students who live within that attendance area would be guaranteed a place at the school. Each attendance area would consist of a walk zone and a district transportation zone. The territory that lies beyond each school’s attendance area, but within the boundaries of the Rochester school district, would be defined as the self-transport zone. Families that live outside a school’s attendance area would be able to attend the school if there is space at the school and the family can provide their student with transportation to and from school. If the number of students who live in a school’s self-transport zone is greater than the number of spaces available at the school, the opportunity to attend the school would be awarded by lottery. The new attendance areas that would be put in place through the Redesign will be discussed by the School Board on December 5, 2023.

  2. Discontinue Districtwide Transportation for Districtwide Option Schools (DWOs): Students who attend the six schools in RPS that are currently identified as districtwide option schools would no longer receive transportation service from locations outside each school’s district transportation zone. Under the Attendance Options Redesign, the current districtwide option schools would receive the same level of transportation service as all other schools in the district. Any student who is currently enrolled in a districtwide option school would be able to continue attending that school if they live in the school’s attendance area or if the family can provide the student with transportation to and from the school. The Attendance Options Redesign would not make changes in the curricula or academic programs offered by the DWOs. 

  3. Expand the School Age Child Care (SACC) Program: The district would launch a major initiative to increase the number of students who are able to attend SACC. To accomplish that objective, the district would increase compensation for SACC positions, implement new class schedules at our high schools that encourage and enable high school students to work at SACC, and create new incentives for education support professionals (ESPs) to work at SACC by providing them with eight hours of work if they want to take advantage of that option. 

  4. Expand the Newcomers Program for Multilingual Students: The Newcomers Program for students who have recently arrived in the United States and who qualify as beginner learners would be offered at an increased number of schools, with programs located in both the northern and southern sections of the school district. 

  5. Close Schools to Adjust to Declining Enrollment: The Attendance Options Redesign includes the closure of three school and program sites. The schools recommended for closure were selected because each has experienced a sustained pattern of declining enrollment. The recommendation to close those schools is not a reflection of the quality of the educational programs that those schools offer, the dedicated work that their school staffs do for their students, or the commitment of the parents and caregivers who send their students to those schools. The schools are: Mighty Oaks Early Learning School, Pinewood Elementary, and Riverside Elementary.

  6. Reconfigure Churchill and Hoover Early Learning and Elementary Schools: Under the Redesign, Churchill would become a K-5 school and Hoover would serve only early childhood students.  

  7. Move Lincoln K-8 School to a New Location and Expand Enrollment: Lincoln K-8 School would move into the building that is currently occupied by Riverside Elementary. An expanded Lincoln K-8 school would also serve as the attendance area school for most of the students who currently attend Riverside Elementary. 

  8. Adopt a Traditional Calendar at Longfellow Elementary and Expand the School to Grades K-8: Longfellow Elementary would become a K-8 school that utilizes the traditional school calendar rather than the 45-15 calendar on which Longfellow currently operates. Adding the middle school grades to Longfellow would enable the school to fully utilize the new and larger building that the school moved into at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. 

  9. Create a Middle School ALC: The Middle School Right Fit program would reopen in the fall of 2024 as an alternative learning center for middle school students. 

  10. Maintain Support for Students with Disabilities: Adjustments may be made in the locations of some programs for students with disabilities based upon the elements of the final version of the Attendance Options Redesign, but all students who are identified for special education services will continue to have full access to those services, including transportation service if that is included in their Individualized Education Program (IEP).