Westerville News & Public Opinion

Westerville school board delays elementary realignment decision

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A committee charged with recommending new elementary-school attendance boundaries for the Westerville City School District has asked for another week to fine tune its attendance maps.

The Board of Education held a special work session to discuss realignment options March 7 and heard an update of committee progress both then and at its regular meeting Monday, March 11.

Under an original timeline put forth by the district, the board was scheduled to vote on a realignment recommendation March 11.

Instead, the board now plans to hold a special meeting within the next week to hear that recommendation. A date for that meeting had not been set as of Tuesday afternoon.

"The board would like to have more time to have conversation among ourselves about what we plan to put in a first reading," board President Denise Pope said at the March 11 meeting.

The board's Elementary Attendance Boundary Realignment Committee, meanwhile, set a special meeting for March 13.

The group is focusing on refining the attendance map referred to as "D3." That map focuses on the neighborhood school concept, while creating an attendance boundary for a combined Emerson/Hanby school in the Uptown area.

That option also lowers capacity at the district's two schools with "open" design floor plans -- Annehurst and Pointview; leaves room for the Able and Talented program to be consolidated at Emerson and Hanby; and keeps the percentage of students on the free and reduced-price lunch program below 56 at all schools, said district Business Operations Services Director Jeff LeRose.

Under Option D3, 1,240 students would be impacted by the realignment, LeRose said. That number is lower than most earlier options put forth by the committee, but higher than Option F1, considered last week, that only impacted 932 students.

As the board discussed realignment March 11, Pope also announced that the district was taking off the table any discussion on what would happen at the now vacant Longfellow and Central College buildings, which the district closed at the end of last school year as part of budget cuts that eliminated the magnet program.

District administrators presented potentially uses for those buildings to the board at a Feb. 25 meeting.

"These buildings and those future uses will be incorporated into any overall usage as part of a strategic plan," which the district likely will look at as it welcomes a new superintendent after the conclusion of this school year, Pope said.

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