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District considers boundary changes to better balance elementary students PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 14:51

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USD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert, second from left, and Board of Education members Alan Brown and Nick Hatcher review a proposal for new school boundaries at Monday’s school board meeting. L&T photo/Robert Pierce

By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times

After recent concerns about overcrowding at some of Liberal’s elementary schools, officials with USD 480 began looking at options to alleviate the congestion in those schools.
A committee had been formed to make suggestions to reconfigure the boundary lines for those schools, and the members of that committee had come up with several options for new boundary maps.
Community forums are scheduled for March 29 and April 10 to allow people to talk about what they believe the new boundaries should look like.
One of those options was discussed at Monday’s meeting of the USD 480 Board of Education, and district superintendent Renae Hickert said Prairie View Elementary, in particular, was looked at.
Under the new boundary map, Hickert said the area of town for students who would potentially attend Sunflower Elementary would be expanded, alleviated the congestion at Prairie View.
She likewise said students who live north of U.S. Highway 54 and those who live north of the railroad tracks between Kansas Avenue and Pershing Avenue would now go to Meadowlark Elementary.
Those who live straight north of Meadowlark, however, would no longer go to that school, instead attending MacArthur Elementary.
A dotted line going across the section of Hwy. 54 west of Kansas Avenue and going north to Tucker Road and east past Country Estates would then separate the boundaries of Liberal’s two middle schools, with those north of the line attending Eisenhower Middle School and those south of the line going to Seymour Rogers Middle School.
BOE Vice President Travis Combs questioned what the new boundaries would do to the socioeconomic demographics of the schools. Board member Matt Durler, who is part of the boundary committee, said that issue has been addressed many times by the committee.
“Each one of these pockets has a significant socioeconomic challenge,” he said. “We probably had a dozen meetings on this altogether, and that very topic came up several times.”
Hickert said all of USD 480’s schools have similar demographics with the exception of MacArthur.
“MacArthur’s is a little lower,” she said. “They don’t have quite as many free and reduced. In my opinion, they’re still high.”
BOE member Nick Hatcher thanked the committee for its hard work on the boundary issues in the district.
“I know that this particular topic could very well be one of the toughest topics that this district has looked at or contemplated changing over the last several years,” he said. “It’s a touchy subject, and I know a lot of thought went into this.”
Many on the board said they would like to have a long-term solution to the overcrowding problem, and Hickert said the committee’s overriding goal was just that.
“Other than the demographic discussion, that was probably the most common thing I heard,” she said. “We don’t have to revisit this every three years. We’re hoping this is a long-term solution.”
Durler agreed, saying under the proposed solution, schools outside of Prairie View could handle a fair amount of more students.
“This gets it to where we believe each building has roughly room, in the new buildings, another 50 kids equitably, and Cottonwood and Sunflower would have more than that,” he said.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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