Wichita school officials tonight will kick off a series of public meetings intended to gather ideas on a preliminary plan to change school attendance boundaries.
Today’s meeting, at 6:30 p.m. at West High School, 820 S. Osage, will be the first of four over the next two weeks.
Officials with RSP & Associates, a consulting firm hired by the district, will attend the forums, as will members of a district advisory group that has been helping to develop a new boundaries plan.
A tentative proposal would close four elementary schools – Bryant, Emerson, Lincoln and Mueller – as a cost-cutting measure.
The plan calls for two K-8 schools under construction – one in the northeast and one in the southeast quadrant – to open as elementaries instead. Mueller’s aerospace and engineering magnet program would move to a new school being built near 53rd Street North and Woodlawn.
The tentative proposal also would move the Northeast Magnet High School program to a new school being built in Bel Aire. And it would shift many of the lines that determine which schools students attend.
School board members said they hope residents will attend the meetings and ask questions or offer ideas.
“There haven’t been formal decisions made,” said board member Sheril Logan.
“We are still in the collection of information (phase) and trying to figure out what is the best decision when we really don’t want to make some of the decisions that are pushed upon us.”
Superintendent John Allison said opening the new high school as a magnet instead of a comprehensive high school would save $10 million to $12 million a year in operating costs.
The loss of more than $50 million in state education funding since 2008 means older elementary schools would have to close in order to open new buildings, Allison added. Opening five new schools without closing others would cost an additional $24 million a year in operating costs, he said.
“The loss of revenue has made it impossible” to open new schools or reduce class sizes, Allison told board members this week. “The ability to add additional staff is not possible within the budget.”
After tonight, three other public meetings are scheduled. All begin at 6:30 p.m. Free child care will be provided. Here is the schedule:
• Thursday, Brooks Technology and Arts Magnet Middle School, 3802 E. 27th St. North
• Jan. 18, North High School, 1437 N. Rochester
• Jan. 19, Curtis Middle School, 1031 S. Edgemoor