Attendance Areas

     “Can you explain to me the attendance areas in UCS?”

    This is not an unusual question for the school district to receive from families. It usually comes from young families who are new to the school district or parents frustrated by the distances they need to travel to their elementary school when another is just around the corner.

    Attendance areas in Utica Community Schools are largely the product of how enrollment patterns existed during the moment of time when a school was built or subdivisions were created within our district.

    While enrollment patterns have significantly changed over these years, our attendance patterns have stayed relatively the same. The result is:

    • There are several neighborhoods where students do not attend the same school as those that geographically surround them. The result is that these students are separated from their friends who may live a street over.
    • There are some areas of our district where families are passing through one or two other attendance areas before they reach their child’s school.
    • There are elementary schools that feed into multiple junior high schools – in some instances as many as three junior high schools. The strong sense of community that is built at the elementary level is broken when it comes to sixth graders moving to their next school.

    We have a unique opportunity to address these issues over the next several years, with the greatest focus at the elementary and junior high school levels.

    (From Page One)

    The construction of two elementary schools and extensive renovations at existing buildings – both of which will result in larger capacities - can bring currently split neighborhoods together into a brand new school.

    The building study regarding the future of the Heritage Junior High School/Utica Academy for International Studies is also considering the possibility of attendance areas in the southern part of our district. The Van Dyke Corridor and the Clinton River are natural boundaries that are not currently followed in our current areas.

    There are a few important points I want to make as we take this important step:

    • This is a multi-year approach that will go hand in hand with facility use studies and the planning of facility improvements. Currently, we are studying junior high school attendance areas as part of our long-range facility use review of Heritage Junior High School/GLK-UAIS (for information see this fact sheet).
    • We will continue to gather input from our Enrollment Distribution Advisory Committee – a group of parents from each school community.
    • We recognize how loyalties and relationships build within a school community and the importance of including some level of transition time for current students.

    Attendance areas are never easy discussions. By working together, we can put our district on a path where school attendance areas make better sense. A path where communities remain intact as students move to secondary schools, students are not geographically separated, and we are pursuing our goal of creating neighborhood schools for our families.