About 80 people attended the first of two scheduled meetings Monday designed to gather information from parents and residents about how to reconfigure attendance boundaries for the Reynoldsburg school district.

About 80 people attended the first of two scheduled meetings Monday designed to gather information from parents and residents about how to reconfigure attendance boundaries for the Reynoldsburg school district.

A 23-member steering committee, including co-chairs Loretta King and Scott Smith, will analyze the data in the coming weeks in order to provide feedback by the next community meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 13.

The addition of a new elementary school and a second high school for the 2011-12 school year means district attendance boundaries will need to be changed.

The 90-minute meeting Monday at Waggoner Road Junior High School was facilitated by Chuck Warner, owner of Warner Concepts LLC, a consulting company that assists school districts around the country in configuring boundaries and with educational planning.

Warner said the task in Reynoldsburg to reconfigure the district's boundaries is more complex because of the 6,300-student enrollment.

A district profile was given to each person at Monday's meeting, along with two questionnaires, both with the same 11 questions.

One questionnaire was for each individual to answer and the second was used when the crowd was divided into 14 groups.

"Tonight we're gathering their thoughts on planning criteria; for example, when is a building considered to be full? Or should a student be allowed to stay in the school if their sibling is there?" Warner said.

"Like if I currently go to a school with my brother, can I stay there even when I get old enough to go to the next grade level?" he said.

One of the questions asked those at the meeting to rank the most desired grade configuration, whether it be K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12; or K-4, 5-8, 9-12; or K-5, 6-8, 9-12.

Most groups chose the current configuration of K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12

Attendees were also asked to define a neighborhood school and its characteristics; for instance, should attendance boundaries for a neighborhood school cover students who can walk to school, students within one or 1.5 miles, or should 50 percent of students live within a one- or 1.5-mile radius, with the rest coming from other parts of the district?

Many groups chose to define a neighborhood school as one students can walk to.

Another question dealt with the maximum amount of time a student should spend on a bus each day for elementary, middle school, junior high and high school 30 to 45 minutes, 45 to 60 minutes or 60 to 75 minutes.

Most at Monday's meeting said 30-45 minutes or less would be preferable.

The data from the questions were not tallied or analyzed Monday. The steering committee will review all of the information and come up with the results by the next community meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, again at Waggoner Road Junior High School.

Steering committee co-chair Loretta King said another purpose of collecting data is to help build strong schools and a strong community by allowing the community to be involved in the process.

"The steering committee is trying to determine what are the best ways to go about the planning and getting the community involved and hopefully, it's something people understand," King said. "The door is open. We're going out to everyone and this is their time to see where we are currently and where we're going, and how we're looking at it.

"It's forward thinking, really trying to prepare for the future, taking where we've been and are currently and how does that impact our community in the future?" she said.

District spokesperson Tricia Moore said the hope is that by the Dec. 13 meeting, the steering committee can provide examples of how the attendance boundaries might look, based on the information collected Monday.

"This meeting is broad strokes to gather the ideas of the residents so the steering committee can take it all and analyze how people are thinking and how they may want to see the boundaries configured," Moore said.

"It's not like a survey or vote; we're just gathering feedback and it will all just feed into the next generation of ideas," she said.

Ultimately, any boundary configurations will be presented to Superintendent Steve Dackin, who will make a recommendation to the board of education for their approval in January or February.

dowen@thisweeknews.com

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