District OKs revised map for ’12-13 year

By Bryan Richardson

USD 383 is closer to confirming a new district map with the school board’s unanimous approval of the first reading of the map recommendation Wednesday.

The recommendation came to the board after the redistricting committee, comprised of parents, educators and district officials, met nine times in recent months and considered 32 different map options.

The committee worked to redistrict the elementary schools because Lee Elementary has bee re-designated as a large elementary school following a construction project. The board is expected to give the new districts final approval at its Feb. 1 meeting.

Based on the committee’s recommendation, the following neighborhoods would be assigned to each school (with additions in parenthesis):

Amanda Arnold: Arbor, Cico Park, Claflin West, Lee Mill, Miller Ranch, S Anderson, Sharingbrook, West Kimball, Westbank.

Bluemont: Blue River, Bluehills, Bluemont N, Flinthills, Tuttle Cove (Deep Creek North, Deep Creek South, Dempsey, Fairmont, KS-177, KS-177 South, Lafayette, Lake Elbo, McDowell Creek, Military Trail, Moritz, Pillsbury Crossing, US-24 North, US-24 South, Zeandale).

Frank Bergman: Candlewood, Cedar Creek, Colbert Hills, Ft. Riley South, Little Kitten North, Manhattan Ave. South, Marlatt West, Redbud, Riverchase, Tuttle Creek Blvd. West (Amherst).

Lee: College Heights, Garden Way, Grandview, Jardine, Scenic Dr. E, West Anderson, Westwood (Brookville, Colonial Gardens, Country Meadows, Pebblebrook).

Marlatt: Browning S, Hillview, Meadowood, Rogers, Sargent, Seaton, Seth Child North, Tatarrax (Rocky Ford, Tuttle Creek Blvd., Valleywood).

Northview: Blue Valley, Butterfield, Dix, Knox, Nelson’s Landing, Northview

Ogden: Airport, Eureka, K-18 South, Ogden, Random Woods (Sunrise West).

Theodore Roosevelt: Poyntz West, Stagg Hill East, Stagg Hill West.

Woodrow Wilson: Downtown, Green Valley N, Green Valley S, Timber Creek, Timber Creek East.

Based on this year’s enrollment numbers, the plan moves 388 elementary students (11.8 percent) and 45 middle school students (1.4 percent).

Schools receiving an increase are Bluemont (14 students), Frank Bergman (52 students), Lee (140 students), Marlatt (42 students), Ogden (3 students) and Theodore Roosevelt (10 students). Schools with decreases are Amanda Arnold (52 students), Northview (97 students) and Woodrow Wilson (109 students).

The target capacity for small elementary schools – Bluemont, Ogden, Roosevelt and Woodrow – is 246 students; the target is 472 students for large elementary schools: Amanda Arnold, Bergman, Lee, Marlatt and Northview.

Based on this year’s numbers, the plan includes Amanda Arnold at 103.8 percent of its capacity, Roosevelt at 103.3 percent and Woodrow at 106.5 percent. The other schools are at least 90 percent of their capacities except Ogden, which is at 82.5 percent of its capacity.

The discussion went smoothly without any issues coming up outside of transfer rules.

Board member Pete Paukstelis had some concern about students changing schools in their last year; ten current seventh graders and 44 current fifth graders would switch schools.

Paukstelis suggested giving priority to those students on the transfer list as long as the class size remained manageable. The discussion about that issue will continue at the next school board meeting.

Board vice-president Dave Colburn said he’s sympathetic to the situation, but it wouldn’t be bad if the change happens. He said students would have a chance to meet a new group of kids before meeting up with old friends again.

“We’re not asking them to go to prison for a year,” he said. “We’re asking them to go from one nice school to another for a year.”

Board member Walt Pesaresi wondered about the criteria for the students if not enough spots are open. He asked rhetorically whether things such as gender, race, family wealth and/or student behavior would be a factor.

Pesaresi mentioned that the district has gone through this process before with the closing and reopening of Bluemont. The district will have a similar transition period where school staff and families visit one another during the spring to help everyone adjust.

Still, some parents might have an aversion to moving the children for personal reasons.

Sandy Myers, of Colonial Gardens, said her family needs the stability provided by remaining at one school due to her husband’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury from his time in the military. Myers said her daughter is experiencing the symptoms of secondary PTSD.

Myers, whose daughter is a kindergarten student at Bluemont but would be moved to Lee under the proposal, said she wanted to keep her at Bluemont because she doesn’t know how her daughter will handle the change.

“I just want to try to make sure my daughter can be somewhere where she’s accepted, where her issues are known and dealt with appropriately,” she said.

Board president Doug Messer said every school has military families in a district where 25 percent of students come from that background. He said any child would be taken care of whether at an old or new school.

“For those of you who have some anxiety about that, understand that we do know how to work with those kids and the things that go with them in today’s society,” he said.

The board approved the adoption of an advisory period at Manhattan High during the spring semester. The purpose of the advisory time would be to provide personalized time for teachers to work with individual students or students in small groups.

The advisory period would be scheduled for 21 minutes, once every two weeks, as an extension of 4th hour. This requires three minutes being reduced from each period.

Pesaresi said the six to seven advisory days that would happen this semester won’t be enough for a meaningful impact. He said he doesn’t see it working unless it’s done once a week.

“Twenty-one minutes every other week, personally, is a joke,” Pesaresi said. “With that said, I think it’s a start.”

Principal Terry McCarty said the goal is to get the program launched so it can evolve.

Kate Moore, teacher at MHS East and West, gave her support for the program. “There’s never a guarantee you’ll be able to support every student,” she said. “But the goal is to support as many of them as we can with as much personal relationship as we can provide.”

McCarty will present a report on the period to the board in May.

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