The first community meeting to discuss new Wichita school attendance boundaries will be Wednesday evening at Southeast High School.
The meeting, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Southeast auditorium, 903 S. Edgemoor, will be a chance for parents, teachers, students and others to learn about the process of setting boundaries and the timeline the school board will use to make key decisions.
Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to provide input.
"This is the first step in what will be a difficult journey, but one we need to go through," superintendent John Allison told board members Monday.
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Allison said the meeting would not feature any specific boundary scenarios or proposals. "There are no lines on the map," he said.
"It's really more of an information meeting, an evening to understand the process we're going to follow so folks are very clear on how this is going to transpire over the next several months."
Five schools are under construction as part of a $370 million bond issue and slated to be complete next fall.
One is a $31 million high school at 53rd North and Rock Road that is intended to relieve packed hallways at Heights High School and accommodate growth in and around Bel Aire. A K-8 school is under construction a mile to the west.
Another K-8 school is going up at 143rd East and Pawnee, intended to relieve crowding in the district's southeast quadrant.
And two elementary schools are scheduled to open next fall — one at the site of Lewis Open Magnet, near Seneca and 31st South, and Ortiz Elementary, at 33rd North and Arkansas.
Faced with substantial reductions in state aid and expecting potentially deeper cuts next year, district leaders have not decided whether or when the schools will open. If they do, school boundaries will have to be changed and a new pattern of elementaries and middle schools established that would feed into the new high school.
Earlier this month, the Wichita school board voted to pay RSP Associates, an Olathe-based consulting group, up to $160,000 for more guidance in creating boundary proposals and gathering public input. Representatives from the consulting group will attend the meeting Wednesday.
Allison said he hopes to convene focus groups and school site councils through December to talk about boundaries. A new boundary plan will be presented to the school board in January.