April 16, 2014

Revised school boundaries presented at forum

Mark Taylor
Special to the Gardner News
About 30 Gardner Edgerton School District patrons got a sneak peek at proposed attendance boundary revisions during a Jan. 7 public forum at Wheatridge Middle School.
The forum was the first of five the school district is hosting this month to present the boundaries to the public, answer questions and gather input.
The district boundary committee will submit the proposed boundary revisions to the district planning committee on Jan. 22.
The school board is then expected to vote on the boundaries on Jan. 28.
Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said the boundary revisions are intended to ease

Graphic courtesy of USD 231

Graphic courtesy of USD 231

overcrowding at existing schools and to accommodate a seventh elementary school expected to open in 2013 and a third middle school slated to open in 2014.
He said growth has prompted the district to revise attendance boundaries every five to seven years over the past 20 years.
The proposed boundary revisions were drafted to maintain population consistency throughout the attendance areas.
“It has to do with where the density of population is…,” Gilhaus said. “The boundaries will not always line up even.”
Gilhaus said the district currently has 5,448 students with a capacity for 5,798.
He said growth averages 200 new students per year.
The three elementary schools that would be most impacted by the boundary revisions –Moonlight, Nike and Gardner – are at more than 90 percent of their capacity.
According to information presented during the forum, Moonlight is at 119 percent of its 518-student capacity with 618 enrolled.
Nike is at 95 percent, with an enrollment of 375 and a capacity for 394.
Gardner is at 93 percent, with an enrollment of 412 and capacity for 442.
If the boundaries are adopted as presented, the new elementary school – which is expected to open in the fall – would have an enrollment of about 370 with a capacity for 520.
That would bring Moonlight’s attendance numbers down to 373, Nike’s to 329 and Gardner’s to 355.
Those schools would then feed into three middle schools when the new middle school opens in 2014.
Edgerton and Madison would feed into Pioneer Ridge, Sunflower and Gardner would feed into Wheatridge, and Nike and the new elementary would feed into the new middle school.
The Moonlight attendance area would be divided between Wheatridge and the new middle school.
“Moonlight is too big by itself not to be split,” Gilhaus said.  “Moonlight by itself could put a new middle school at 60 percent capacity…That’s the challenge.”
Existing middle schools, Wheatridge and Pioneer Ridge, are at 105 percent and 93 percent capacity, respectively.
Wheatridge has 837 students and Pioneer Ridge has 746.
Both schools have a capacity for 800.
The new middle school is expected to open at 75 percent capacity with 598 students and space to accommodate 800.
That would bring Wheatridge’s numbers down to 544 students (68 percent capacity) and Pioneer Ridge’s to 471 students (59 percent capacity).
Gilhaus said parents may request a student transfer to grandfather their elementary and middle school students on a space-available basis.
“If you have a third grade student currently that’s going to be a fourth grade student next year, for example, you can request a student transfer, and we would look at grandfathering your child to remain in that elementary school,” he said. “They’ve been there for kindergarten, first, second and third grade. We understand you wanting them to finish their career at that school.”
However, grandfathering does not apply to student transportation outside of a student’s attendance area, Gilhaus said.
He said transportation policy is determined by First Student, the district’s contracted bussing company.
Audience member Jerry Kellogg asked whether the population projections included Sunflower Ridge, a proposed 500-home development in Edgerton.
Chris Gralapp, the school district’s demographer, said Sunflower Ridge is not expected to build out for several years.
“We anticipate 10 to 12 homes per year,” he said. “…The start date for kids to come out of that subdivision keeps getting pushed back.”
However, Gardner is expecting 50 new homes to be built in 2013.
Gralapp said that number likely will increase to more than 200 new homes per year around 2018.
A second boundary forum was held on Jan. 8 at Nike Elementary.
Additional forums will be held on Jan. 10 at Pioneer Ridge Middle School, Jan. 15 at Moonlight Elementary and Jan. 16 at Gardner Elementary.
The forums start at 6:30 p.m.

 

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