Redistricting Remains Center of Attention at Columbia School Board Meeting
Data on future enrollment, focus groups and students with disabilities’ inclusion in the redistricting process were at the center of Monday night’s Columbia School Board meeting.
Alex Boyer, a consultant from Cooperative Strategies, presented data on how enrollment would grow without the new middle school, which is scheduled to open in August 2020. Along with input from community focus groups, enrollment projections will be used to draw new district boundaries and determine how many students will attend the new middle school.
Scott Leopold, the consultant leading the redistricting process, said students who currently live in neighborhoods around Gentry Middle School but who attend Jefferson Middle School are most likely to be impacted.
“Areas in close proximity to the new middle school site are expected to have the most change,” Leopold said.
The projections show past and future enrollment for middle and high schools but exclude the new middle school and all elementary schools. Leopold said he didn’t include data for elementary school enrollment because they may not be impacted by the new attendance boundaries.
The enrollment projections show which schools are likely to be overcrowded in the future. According to the data, without the new middle school:
- By the 2019-20 school year, Gentry Middle School will be over capacity by 185 students.
- By the 2020-21 school year, Jefferson Middle School will be over capacity by 111 students.
- By the 2020-21 school year, Rock Bridge High School will be over capacity by 407 students.
Board members said they are more confident in this enrollment data than what’s been used for past redistricting.
Board member Teresa Maledy said she’s interested in looking more in-depth at the numbers, as this is her first time going through the redistricting process as a board member. Maledy was elected to the board in April.
Maledy also said she was pleased the consulting company is taking parent concerns and desires into account. Many parents have said they want high school students to remain in their current school through graduation.
Brooke Thomas, a Rock Bridge High School freshman, spoke at the meeting and advocated for the Class of 2022 to remain at Rock Bridge through graduation. Thomas acknowledged that the hallways are crowded but said everyone gets along well.
She also asked the board to take students’ mental health into account when making decisions about a possible grandfathering policy.
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