Some redistricting will be necessary in the Gardner Edgerton School District whether voters approve or reject a $72 million bond issue next January. However, Leann Northway, USD 231 communications director, said school officials have yet to discuss what new boundaries will look like if voters approve a bond issue to build a new elementary school and a new middle school.
“Once the bond is approved, we’ll discuss where we will pull children from to fill the new schools,” she said. “You can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t get into that until we know we have something to work with.”
New boundary lines in response to a bond issue would likely only affect students in high density parts of town, she said. For example, Moonlight Elementary is overcapacity right now. The school was designed to hold 518 students, and last year, it hosted 613 students. To house the additional students, board members opted to build modular classrooms on the school’s property.
There are a few classrooms in the district not being used for traditional K-12 that could potentially be used to alleviate some overcrowding, but Northway said that would possibly require getting rid of popular district programs.
For example, the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department leases classrooms for Kindergarten Enrichment and Before/After Care at Madison, Gardner, Moonlight, Nike and Sunflower Elementary Schools.
More than 350 students use the program.
“It’s a good program that’s utilized by many. I know they have waiting lists,” she said.
The January bond issue would solve current and projected overcapacity without cutting programs.
“Changing boundaries would be a short term fix, but eventually we’re going to have to deal with overcapacity,” Northway said.
Changing boundaries would be only a “quick fix” and will result in students being transported outside their attendance area with boundary re-evaluations year after year. As a reminder, it takes 18 months to build an elementary school and 24 months to build a middle school.
Right now, Moonlight and Wheatridge Middle School are over capacity, but other schools will join their ranks, according to district projections. The district’s elementary schools were designed to hold 2,598 students, and officials estimate they will house 2,650 students by 2013.
“Changing boundaries would be only a quick fix and will result in students being transported outside their attendance area with boundary re-evaluations year after year,” Northway said. “And remember, it takes 18 months to build an elementary school, and 24 months to build a middle school,” Northway said. “Now is the time to get those schools built.”