How do school attendance areas get decided? | KBIA

How do school attendance areas get decided?

Nov 7, 2014

We're halfway into the first year  of Columbia School District’s re-alignment, the most noticeable change being the addition of Battle High School. KBIA is looking at the process of re-alignment, its effects, and what the district is planning for the future.

Kansas City based firm RSP & Associates is crunching numbers for the current round of  Columbia Public Schools (CPS)  district re-alignment. The same firm was also hired to do data analysis for the district re-alignments leading up to the opening of Battle High School.

The firm collected data on the district including enrollment and the number of students on free and reduced lunch. The data was used to create different scenarios of boundary re-alignment which were then sent to the  secondary enrollment planning committee for consideration.   

The options considered by the committee of community members were broken down into three categories: “A”, “B”, and “C”. Each option provided a different strategy for deciding a student's path from elementary to high school:

  • Option “A” would  keep cohorts of students together from elementary school to middle school 
  • Option “B” would keep cohorts of students together from middle school to high school
  • Option “C” would draw attendance areas independently for each school


Walt McManus, lead of programming and web development for CPS, said the committee went through around twenty to thirty different boundary situations before coming down to a final decision.

The board of education ultimately selected option "B", which designated two middle schools to feed each high school. Once approved by the board of education, the final boundary data was sent to McManus to map.    

The "FRL%" refers to the percent of students on the free or reduced lunch program, an indicator of potentially lower socio-economic status.
Credit Columbia Public Schools

Credit Columbia Public Schools

One of the effects of this plan on the high school boundary maps is the appearance of a “thumb” in the Rock Bridge High School attendance area that divides the center of Columbia.

Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark explained the Rock Bridge attendance area is partially a result of its feeder school Jefferson, which also has that unique shape. 

Public High School Attendance Areas

CPS is using a similar process to incorporate two new elementary schools into the district. Earlier this year, CPS finalized the attendance areas for Battle Elementary, which will open next school year. And the first meeting to discuss the boundaries for an additional elementary school, planned to open in southwest Columbia in 2016, was held earlier this week. 


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