Parents discuss elementary school redistricting at forum

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | 11:11 p.m. CDT; updated 5:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Parents who gathered Tuesday night at Shepard Boulevard Elementary School to learn more about the elementary school redistricting proposal said they agree that school overcrowding needs to be addressed.

Don Ludwig, chairman of the Elementary Enrollment Planning Committee, first explained the proposal, then gave parents the chance to comment on the redistricting, which is necessary because of the new elementary school set to open in August 2009.

“I think your transition plan looks very family-friendly,” said Kyna Byerly, who has two children currently attending Shepard.

Byerly said that classes at the school keep getting bigger and that there are more trailers being used. She said while she supports the effort to reduce enrollment at the school, she doesn’t feel the proposal benefits Shepard as much as it would the other elementary schools.

Currently, the boundary lines proposed for the new elementary school include around 80 students from Shepard, 200 from Derby Ridge Elementary, 60 from Lee Elementary and 80 from Field Elementary.

Byerly said she would like to see if there is a way to take more areas out of Shepard’s current zoned boundaries, one being Sunrise Estates because it is the farthest away.

Other attendees asked about the possibilities of adding on to the building itself, rather than adding trailers, having school year-round with different tracts of students rotating throughout the year and sharing classrooms by having school at different times for children of different ages.

Leigh Hollinger, who works part time as a media clerk at Shepard, has two children attending the school and one at Rock Bridge Elementary. Hollinger said she is in favor of reducing classroom sizes but she cannot foresee that happening because of the possibility of new growth.

“There’s too many students,” Hollinger said.

Despite those concerns, Hollinger said she feels the plan will help keep the neighborhood feel of the school intact.

“A new child walks in the door and they’re just engulfed in the community,” she said.

Ludwig said he wasn’t surprised by the reaction from parents at the forum. Making the schools less crowded is a dilemma, he said, but parents don’t want their children to be the ones to move.

The forum was one in a series being held concerning the proposed plan. Besides Shepard, seven other elementary schools would be affected by the redistricting. The district has recommended that Field Elementary School no longer be used as an elementary school but instead as an early childhood education center.

The next forum is tentatively planned for April 1 at Benton Elementary School. Forums have already been held at Lee and Field elementary schools.

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