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School boundaries may change

Enrollment at Red Pine and Pinewood elementary schools has been going in different directions in recent years. Now the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District is looking at a change that would help even things out.

School board members reviewed a proposed boundary change Monday that would move a roughly 1,400-acre chunk of Red Pine's attendance area to Pinewood. The area in question is in Inver Grove Heights and includes homes accessed by roads connected to Rich Valley Boulevard east of Jefferson Boulevard and west of Highway 3; roads connected to Highway 3 from Diffley Road north to the district's boundary; and all roads north of Rich Valley Boulevard.

There are currently 172 students in that area who attend school at Red Pine. There are another 82 children who are younger than elementary age.

The change is a matter of numbers. Enrollment at Red Pine has increased from 725 in 2000 to 946 in 2012, and it's projected to continue growing. In the same period at Pinewood, enrollment has fallen from 934 to 586.

High enrollment has made for some tight quarters at Red Pine.

"It's a little tight for us," Red Pine principal Gary Anger said. "We're over capacity, but there are other schools that are over their capacity in the district as well.... This is hopefully part of a solution for this part of the district."

Red Pine has sent information to families affected by the proposed change, which the school board will not vote on until its next meeting. Both schools held information nights so parents could ask questions.

"Both evenings were pretty lightly attended, but we did have some Red Pine families that had a few questions," Anger said.

Parents in the affected area will not be required to send their students to Pinewood in the first year. The district will continue transportation through the 2017-18 school year so students who want to stay at Red Pine can finish their elementary career there. The area is geographically closer to Pinewood.

Anger expects the change to give Red Pine students a little more space, but he doesn't see it as all good news.

"It's always tough for a school to lose any part of their clientele," Anger said. "We hate to see any neighborhood go. That's the only negative."