Waterloo Elementary School Boundaries Expected To Change
The Waterloo Board of Education is preparing to make changes to the district’s elementary attendance boundaries that will impact where future students will be going to school. Next month, the board is expected to vote on a plan to balance elementary school enrollments throughout the district.
The district’s Facilities Committee has been meeting for several weeks to develop a redistricting plan for Waterloo’s 11 elementary schools. Superintendent Gary Norris plans to present the recommendations to the school board at its regular meeting on June 9th (2014). Board members are expected to discuss the plan at that time, but take no formal action. The board will likely call a special meeting in late June to approve the recommendations.
Under the reorganization plan, several elementary attendance zones will be reduced in area and students from those areas will attend other schools.
Kittrell would gain some students from Lou Henry and Kingsley, Orange will eventually gain students from Poyner and Lou Henry, and Irving will gain from Kingsley. Highland will get some students from the current Lowell and Poyner zones. Lincoln will gain from Becker.
Cunningham would gain some students from Highland and Lowell and also could gain some students, already zoned to Cunningham, from across the city. District officials believe a number of students who originally left the Cunningham zone, may opt to return because the continuous calendar used at the school now is being discontinued for the 2014-2015 school year.
The board’s desired enrollment is 480 students at 8 of the district’s 11 elementaries: Becker, Cunningham, Highland, Irving, Kittrell, Lincoln, Lou Henry and Poyner; 360 students at Kingsley and Lowell; and 605 at Orange.
According to Norris, the enrollment process will take several years to come to fruition because of the district’s practice of grandfathering students. Grandfathering allows a student to stay in a school where he or she has already attended (once approved) rather than being forced to go to a new elementary school. Siblings of those students, however, are not grandfathered and must start at the new school.
Also, the board is proposing to keep the modular classrooms at Kingsely Elementary temporarily in use for another two or three years while the boundary changes take effect. The district plans seek an extension from the City of Waterloo to utilize the modular classrooms two additional years with approval to request a third additional year.
The modular classrooms were initially installed at Kingsley in 2011 to accommodate an influx of about 55 students, mostly from the old Blackhawk Elementary School due to the “No Child Left Behind” federal law. Since that time, Kingsley’s enrollment zone has grown by more than 42 students through a process called gentrification, where retired couples sell their homes to families with younger children.
“These two steps should be adequate over the next two to three years to allow us to better serve children and utilize our facilities in a manner that is actually better for our students,” Norris said. “No one benefits when the enrollment of a school is too small or too large. A school enrollment reasonably close to the desired capacity of the building, allows the building and staff to function more efficiently, thus providing a better education for students.”