District starts boundary change process
A seventh elementary school in De Soto USD 232 will help alleviate congestion in two current elementary schools, but its construction initiated always tricky consideration of east-side elementary school boundaries last week.
At an informational meeting Jan. 7 at Mize Elementary School — one of the schools affected by boundary changes brought on by construction of the new school — parents gathered in the cafeteria to listen to Jack Deyoe, director of operations and planning for the district.
Nineteen parents showed interest in participating in a committee studying boundaries for the new elementary school, which was approved by district voters in a November bond election.
Deyoe led a presentation giving background on the 2008 bond that allowed funding for the new building, past studies for new boundary lines and projected enrollment data for the next two years.
The new building, set to open in August 2010, will be near 58th and Belmont in Shawnee. Horizon Elementary and Mize Elementary are the only schools to be directly affected by the new building. Horizon opened two years ago with 511 students. Deyoe said the new elementary would have to open with 350 students or more for it to be viable and offer the same amenities as other elementary schools.
Each elementary school in the district is architecturally built to hold 550 students or 600 full-time equivalent students. As of September 2008, Horizon and Mize exceeded the 550-student limit. The district’s enrollment grew 6 percent from 5,932 students in 2007-2008 school year to 6,307 students in the 2008-2009 school year.
Deyoe said the most recent growth occurred in a slow economy but that USD 232 had one of the youngest demographics among districts in the Kansas City area.
Deyoe said the hope was to have the committee make boundary recommendations in time for the March meeting of the Board of Education. New lines, once approved by the board, would go in effect beginning August 2010.
Anita Cordell signed up to be on the committee. She has one child attending Horizon and another that will begin kindergarten in two years.
Cordell said although she hasn’t had to endure a school boundary change, neighbors with older children have gone though changes.
Cordell said the meeting provided a good starting point for the committee.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but the information they provided was a good foundation for the data that they’ve started to calculate and they started the ground roots,” she said.
Cordell also liked the idea of settling on boundary changes early so parents had enough time to adjust.
Deyoe said the time commitment for members on the study would be fairly simple. Members don’t have to attend every meeting, but all input would be appreciated.
Parents also discussed with Deyoe the possibility of another bond issue and an eighth elementary school in the next four years.
Deyoe said the situation was plausible because of the community’s ability for growth and the larger class sizes for younger children. Outside factors such as the Johnson County Education Research Triangle could impact growth in the school district, he said.