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Redistricting panel retains elementary school boundaries


March 09, 2005 - By SCOTT MILLER

Staff Reporter

Mehlville School District elementary pupils will attend the same schools next year as the district will not shift boundaries.

Mehlville's Elementary Redistricting Committee last week decided not to reconvene until after Labor Day, citing the potential impact the district's Long Range Planning Committee could have on redistricting needs.

The planning committee is charged with recommending a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan to the Board of Education. Four "action teams'' representing finance, academic achievement, technology and facilities currently are discussing specific action plans to present to the planning committee.

Depending on the board's action, the plan could dictate a shift in students and teachers throughout the district.

For example, preliminary discussions convey desires for smaller class sizes. The planning committee particularly has considered capping kindergarten through third-grade classes at 20 pupils and fourth- through 12th-grade classes at 25 students, said retiring Deputy Superintendent Jane Reed.

"If that were to become a major priority coming out of the action team and then through Long Range Planning then it would have significant impact on space utilization across the district," Reed told the Redistricting Committee March 1. "It would have a significant impact on the budget. It would have a significant impact on facilities. So we have a couple of points that would have a huge impact on space utilization and budget utilization and staffing requirements and setting up classrooms."

But, she added, "I think the jury is still out in terms of where that will eventually land as (planning committee members) fully develop those programs and do that cost-benefit analysis on what that would generate in terms of expenditures."

Elementary boundaries may be secure for another two years, given the time needed to generate the cash necessary to fund the goals and programs spurred by the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.

"Even if the Long Range Planning group agreed to all this ... the board heard it and they agree to it, you still couldn't do anything until next year anyway because you'd have to generate all those resources to do whatever you wanted to do," Superintendent Tim Ricker told committee members.

Mehlville redistricted for the 2003-2004 school year to accommodate a new middle school and the closing of an elementary school.

As part of the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program, a new middle school was erected on the Bernard Elementary School campus and opened at the start of the 2003-2004 school year when the district began operating four middle schools instead of three and 10 elementary schools rather than 11.

The district also shuffled its middle schools to allow sixth-graders to attend.

Previously, only seventh- and eighth-graders were housed at the district's middle schools. Such demanding circumstances merited the need to redistrict, but don't exist this year.

The Elementary Redistricting Committee will continue to monitor the shifts made last year and will next meet after Labor Day, when 2005-2006 enrollment figures are fixed and the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan could be in place, Reed said.

"I think frequently coming back is the best way to monitor the questions we have with the Long Range Planning Committee," she said.

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