October 1, 2014

USD 230 debates new boundary lines

Graphic courtesy of USD 230

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Spring Hill board of education members inched closer to drawing boundary lines to divide the district’s elementary students into three schools next year.
Board members hosted an informational meet-and-greet showcasing four potential boundary scenarios prior to a formal meeting on Oct. 9. The informational meeting was one of several the district has hosted accepting public comments. Tuesday’s meeting featured a new scenario that would essentially allow students within Spring Hill city limits to attend Spring Hill Elementary School. The scenario, labeled “Scenario 4,” revises earlier scenarios to move students in Timber Wolf Creek Estates to Prairie Creek Elementary School, while not splitting any of the subdivisions south of 223rd Street. Under the proposal, students south of 223rd Street, west of U.S. 169 Highway, north of North Street, south of 183rd and east of Woodland Road would attend the new school, Wolf Creek Elementary, under construction near the high school. Boundaries for Prairie Creek Elementary would remain largely unchanged with students of USD 230 patrons living north of 183rd Street attending the school.
Board president Nels Anderson said patrons have expressed a handful of concerns related to proposed boundary changes. They want to keep neighborhoods together and would like to see students who live within city limits attend Spring Hill Elementary School; And they’ve worried about bussing times as well as start and drop-off times.
Anderson said scenario four does a good job of addressing those issues.
“I like the clear delineation of city limits and no subdivisions,” he said of scenario four, which was presented publicly for the first time Oct. 9.
Each scenario includes potential attendance numbers for each school from 2013 through 2016. Boyle said he’d like to see projections for further down the road. The projections suggest that the schools will be nearing capacity by 2016.
“We may want to start looking at the next elementary school,” Boyle said. “I know it’s very early to do that.”
Patrons approved a $32 million bond issue that includes the construction of Wolf Creek Elementary, additions to Prairie Creek Elementary and upgrades to other schools in 2011. The new elementary school will open for the 2013-2014 school year.
Rob Swartz, a contracted demographer, told board members that it takes approximately three years to plan and construct a new school. When construction is complete, the district’s three elementary schools are designed to house between 528 and 616 students.
“It’s very conceivable that by 2017, ’18, ’19, one or all three buildings might be at capacity,” he said.
Board members also asked to see more information about bussing schedules and additional routes before making a final decision.
Superintendent Bart Goering said the district is committed to ensuring that bus routes are no longer than one hour.
USD 230 patrons can still offer comments about the potential boundaries on the district website. The site also includes proposed boundary line maps for all four scenarios. Officials will be sending out communication to parents about the latest proposal, scenario 4.
Goering anticipates school board members will make a final decision about next year’s boundary lines at the Nov. 12 meeting.
“It sounds like we’re getting closer to a decision that’s going to be closer to scenario 4,” Goering said.

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