Southwest Allen County Schools officials are moving forward with a plan to redistrict two of the district’s six elementary schools to balance school populations and student-teacher ratios.
School administrators have conducted five of eight meetings with parents and members of the community to explain the redistricting plan, Superintendent Steve Yager told school board members Tuesday.
One of the goals is to average between 85 percent and 95 percent occupancy in each of the elementary schools, Yager said. The majority of the district’s elementary schools are at 83 percent to 85 percent capacity. Covington Elementary is at 91 percent capacity, while Deer Ridge Elementary School is at 73.2 percent capacity.
The plan calls for moving about 77 students in the Chestnut Hills subdivision, off Illinois Road, from Covington to Deer Ridge beginning in the fall of 2014. Those changes would bring Covington’s capacity to 82.1 percent and Deer Ridge to 88.6 percent capacity, Yager said.
The district’s two middle schools and four other elementary schools – Aboite, Haverhill, Lafayette Meadows and Whispering Meadows – would not be affected.
The Deer Ridge, Haverhill and Aboite areas are already built up and those enrollment numbers remain stable, while Covington, Whispering Meadows and Lafayette Meadows have a larger potential for growth, Yager said.
About 75 percent of the district’s households do not have children in the school system, he said.
“We must be good stewards of tax dollars because the majority of taxpayers do not send children to our schools but support our system,” Yager said.
“They include empty nesters, childless couples, home-schoolers and private or parochial schoolers.”
The recent public information meetings have been well attended, he said.
“People like it that we are not splitting up neighborhoods or subdivisions,” Yager said.
“The question we do get at these meetings is ‘Why is it always us?’ but it depends on the strongest areas of growth,” Associate Superintendent Philip Downs said.
While next year’s fifth-grade students from Chestnut Hills have the option of finishing their final elementary school year at Covington, their younger siblings would be required to shift to Deer Ridge, according to the proposal.
The plan is expected to be finalized by March, in plenty of time for parents and students to plan and prepare for the 2014-15 school year.
No public comments were voiced during a public hearing on the school’s proposed 2014 budget.
The $68.3 million budget is basically flat-lined from the previous year, Business Manager Jim Coplen said.
“There’s probably a $100,000 difference,” he said.
The board is expected to adopt the budget at its Oct. 15 meeting.