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Board considers redistricting plan

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Simpsonville students might stay

By Nathan L. McBroom

Laura Floyd isn't sure where her children will be sent to school next year.

Floyd, who has a kindergartener and second-grader at Simpsonville Elementary School, is one of the 35 local parents who were notified last month that their child might be redistricted to Southside Elementary School because of overcrowding at Simpsonville.

Floyd and many other parents were angered by the change and asked for alternative solutions.

At last Thursday's Shelby County School Board meeting, board personnel discussed an alternative measure that would keep all of those students at the school and could address the overcrowding.

Gary Kidwell, director of student accounting and support services, told the board that if the school system refused to allow students to transfer to Simpsonville from other counties and parts of the Shelby County, then redistricting students may not be necessary at this time.

Kidwell said the district would also have to address parents who give false addresses in order to "sneak" their child into the Simpsonville district.

While Floyd and the other parents were pleased with the proposal, no motions were made on the proposal. They will have to wait until the next board meeting on Dec. 18, to see if the problem will be addressed.

Kidwell said the district must take into consideration the needs of the individual students and the entire district.

"We certainly want to accommodate them as best we can," he said. "But, at the end of the day, there is still an overcrowding problem at Simpsonville, and something has to give somewhere."

In order to address the overcrowding, last month board personnel proposed redistricting some students who live in Finchville to Southside. The change, which would effect close to 60 children, would take effect next school year, if enacted.

The district's current plan calls for Simpsonville students who live in parts of Finchville to be reassigned to Southside.

Superintendent James Neihof said, though the plan calls for major changes, the problem must be addressed.

"The school is currently at 102 percent of its capacity," he said. "Something has to be done."

In 2006 when the district reopened Southside, the school board adopted a redistricting policy in anticipation of dealing with overcrowding problems in the future around the district.

Under the policy, when any of Simpsonville, Clear Creek, or Painted Stone Elementary schools exceeds 102 percent capacity, the district will reassign students to Southside.

Simpsonville, which is the fastest growing part of the county, has seen a steady population increase over the past 10 years.

Neihof said the students selected to be redistricted were chosen based on their proximity and ease of transportation to Southside.

"The move will not only balance the enrollment at Simpsonville, it will also create a more efficient transportation route for the affected families," he wrote in a memo sent out last week.

In past years, Simpsonville has ranked among the highest scoring elementary schools in the district while Southside has been among the lowest.

Several parents expressed concerns over Southside's academic standards.

Neihof said their concerns were unfounded. He said the quality of education available at the Southside is "second-to-none" in the district. He said he would have no reservations sending his own child there.

If Simpsonville and Southside are redistricted, it could mean that their test scores on the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System are combined next year.

Kidwell said the district is looking for a lasting solution to the problem and not a year-to-year fix.

He also noted that it would be beneficial to the board if they could hold off a massive redistricting until 2012 when the district's new elementary school is scheduled to open.Laura Floyd isn't sure where her children will be sent to school next year.

Floyd, who has a kindergartener and second-grader at Simpsonville Elementary School, is one of the 35 local parents who were notified last month that their child might be redistricted to Southside Elementary School because of overcrowding at Simpsonville.

Floyd and many other parents were angered by the change and asked for alternative solutions.

At last Thursday's Shelby County School Board meeting, board personnel discussed an alternative measure that would keep all of those students at the school and could address the overcrowding.

Gary Kidwell, director of student accounting and support services, told the board that if the school system refused to allow students to transfer to Simpsonville from other counties and parts of the Shelby County then redistricting students may not be necessary at this time.

Kidwell said the district would also have to address parents who give false addresses in order to "sneak" their child into the Simpsonville district.

While Floyd and the other parents were pleased with the proposal, no motions were made on the proposal. They will have to wait until next month's board meeting, Dec. 18, to see if the board will address the problem.

Kidwell said the district must take into consideration the needs of the individual students and the entire district.

"We certainly want to accommodate them as best we can," he said. "But, at the end of the day, there is still an overcrowding problem at Simpsonville, and something has to give somewhere."

In order to address the overcrowding, last month board personnel proposed redistricting some students who live in Finchville to Southside. The change, which would effect close to 60 children, would take effect next school year, if enacted.

The district's current plan calls for Simpsonville Elementary school students who live in parts of Finchville to be reassigned to Southside Elementary School.

Superintendent James Neihof said, though the plan calls for major changes, the problem must be addressed.

"The school is currently at 102 percent of its capacity," he said. "Something has to be done."

In 2006 when the district opened Southside, the school board adopted a redistricting policy in anticipation of dealing with overcrowding problems in the future around the district.

Under the policy, when any of Simpsonville, Clear Creek, or Painted Stone Elementary schools exceeds 102 percent capacity, the district will reassign students to Southside.

Simpsonville, which is the fastest growing part of the county, has seen a steady population increase over the past 10 years.

Neihof said the students selected to be redistricted were chosen based on their proximity and ease of transportation to Southside.

In a memo sent out last week, said the reassignment could actually cut down on the time many students ride the bus.

"The move will not only balance the enrollment at Simpsonville, it will also create a more efficient transportation route for the affected families," he wrote.

In past years, Simpsonville has ranked among the highest scoring elementary schools in the district while Southside has been among the lowest.

Several parents expressed concerns over Southside's academic standards.

Neihof said their concerns were unfounded. He said the quality of education available at the Southside is "second-to-none" in the district. He said he would have no reservations sending his own child there.

If Simpsonville and Southside are redistricted, it could mean that their test scores on the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System are combined next year.

Currently Simpsonville is past 100 percent capacity. Both measures, the redistricting and the refusal of transfers, are designed deal with the overcrowding.

He said the district is looking for a lasting solution to the problem and not a year-to-year fix.

Kidwell said it would be beneficial to the board if they could hold off a massive redistricting until 2012 when the district's new elementary school is set to open.