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The Shelby County Board of Education gave preliminary approval Thursday to a plan that will alter but not drastically shift the balance of elementary school students for the 2014-15 school year to coincide with the opening of the new Southside Elementary School.
“We’re adding [space for] a hundred and fifty students at Southside, so we need to redistribute from our more crowded schools,” Director of Student Services Dave Weedman told the board. “When we started to put this together, our elementary school principals asked for as little disruption as possible, and we need to balance the schools the best we can, capacity-wise.”
The next step for the district will be to present these plans in public forums, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Southside and Oct. 29 at Painted Stone.
The plan Weedman and his committee, made up of administrators, principals, teachers, parents and board member Brenda Jackson, presented to the board moves 131 students into the new Southside, which would increase its capacity to 600 students.
The next biggest change is at Simpsonville, where the capacity will drop from nearly 110 percent to about 93 percent of capacity, with 97 students moving from its district to Southside.
The building capacity changes for each school are:
Weedman noted that schools start to feel crowded in common areas when they are more than 80 percent full.
“In a perfect world, with our population and facilities, we’d be eighty-nine-point-five percent full at each school,” he said. “I know that’s still crowded, but this is important because I know we have a long-range facility planning meeting coming up, and you’ll be hearing a lot about this.”
Several board members questioned the imbalance of capacity, specifically surrounding the new Southside building and Simpsonville.
“With Southside still at only seventy-eight percent, are there more pockets [areas] that we can move into their district, especially with Simpsonville still at 94 percent?” board member Eddie Mathis asked.
“There are, and a few stick out in my mind, but we were trying to help the elementary principals by making as few moves as possible,” Weedman said. “In the future, I think we’re going to have to consider another elementary school, and with that school will come some drastic changes [to the districts], so we tried to keep our committee’s goal to avoiding too many drastic changes at this point.”
The committee also decided against changing districts for the middle- and high-school levels.
“We had a second committee that looked at our elementary redistricting and worked to see if we could commit to making a true feeder program from our elementary schools to our middle and then high schools,” Weedman said. “Really, right now, Clear Creek is the only school that splits between East and West, and Painted Stone has a few [students] that go to East.
“But what we found if we tried to do that, with Painted Stone, Southside and Clear Creek all being so close to each other, that we had about a three-hundred-student difference at the high school level, and that’s certainly not something we want. So our recommendation is to not change the middle and high school districts at this time.”
Elementary district changes
With the proposed redistricting of more than 130 students will be added to the new Southside Elementary School to help balance the school capacities. Public forums are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Southside and Oct. 29 at Painted Stone. The streets currently proposed to change schools are:
To Wright from Clear Creek:
Hazel Lawn Drive
To Southside from Simpsonville:
Mack Walters Road
Valley View Drive
Buck Creek Road
Chesapeake Meadows Court
Fairlight View Drive
Figgs Store Road
JM Turn Around Road
Joyce Station Road
Logan Station Road
Old Brunerstown Road
Olive Branch Road
Ollie Brown Road
Picketts Dam Road
Van Dyke Mill Road
Zaring Mill Road
To Southside from Painted Stone:
Scott Station Road
To Painted Stone from Southside:
Burks Branch Road
Don Cubert Drive
Fox Run Road
To Heritage from Wright:
Van Taylor Lane