No decision will be made soon or without great consideration
Dozens of parents showed up at Meadowlark Elementary School in Andover Monday night for a public forum on USD 385 boundaries. A committee was formed in December to look at the current boundaries for the different schools, whether these boundaries could accommodate future projected growth, and to make recommendations on where new boundaries should be.
“As we proactively try to plan for what’s over that next hill, it is our job to try and figure out what is best for us,” said Greg Rasmussen, Andover superintendent. “Not tomorrow, but five years from now, 10 years from now.”
The committee determined the largest projected population growth was going to happen on the north end of town. With that in mind, they presented three plans at the forum shifting students to the south. Currently, enrollment is highest at Wheatland Elementary School and the lowest at Meadowlark Elementary School.
“Scenario A” would decrease enrollment at Wheatland Elementary by a little over 50 students, increase enrollment at Meadowlark Elementary by about 100 students, and increase enrollment at Andover Central Middle School and Andover Central High School. This would be accomplished by moving boundaries south of K-96 from Wheatland Elementary to Meadowlark Elementary and including the small the Cottonwood Elementary area south of Central to Meadowlark Elementary.
“Scenario B” would decrease enrollment at Wheatland Elementary by about 100 students, and increase enrollment at Meadowlark Elementary by about the same. The changes in boundaries for this scenario would be southwest of 13th and 127th streets from Wheatland to Martin, south of K-96 from Wheatland to Cottonwood Elementary, and would include Green Valley south along Lioba to Kellogg from Sunflower to Meadowlark.
“Scenario C” is similar to “Scenario A” but the boundary changes would be the area west of 127th street east between 13th street and Douglas from Wheatland to Meadowlark.
(Maps of the proposed scenarios can be viewed at www.usd385.org.)
Parents separated into small groups at the forum to discuss the pros and cons of each plan with committee members and school board members. Some parents were concerned about having to move their kids to a different school, while others were worried these plans didn’t go far enough, and they would be going through this whole process again, sooner rather than later.
One of those parents, Shelly Stumpe, has two children in one of the areas that would be affected. She supports moving the boundaries, but thinks moving just 100 students isn’t enough.
“If you are trying to equalize the number of students in each school, you need to move at least 182 kids south,” said Stumpe. “We should go ahead and bite the bullet and move at least 200. Fix it for the long-term. It needs to be a decision based on data not emotions, and the data says you need to move more kids.”
The committee also recommends students in middle and high school be “grandfathered” in, giving them the option of staying at their current schools, along with their elementary school siblings.
School board member Josh Wells emphasized no decision will be made soon or without great consideration.
“I think it is important for parents to realize that we are just gathering information at this point,” said Wells. “We want to make the best decision we can based on what parents feel is right.”
A presentation on the boundary recommendations will be made at the next school board meeting on Monday but no action will be taken at the meeting. District officials invite parents to give their input on the proposed changes by filling out a form on the district’s Web site, www.usd285.org.