One of Worthington Schools' goals for this school year was to put a plan in place to balance the district's high school enrollment.
Currently, Thomas Worthington High School has 1,800 students and Worthington Kilbourne High School has about 1,250 students. To balance those numbers, we committed to move an east-side elementary school from the Thomas Worthington feeder pattern to the Worthington Kilbourne feeder pattern.
A community-led facilities task force identified keeping elementary peers together as a priority. We can accomplish this by moving an elementary feeder and not redrawing district lines.
The facilities task force also recommended creating a feeder-pattern committee to determine which elementary school will shift from Thomas Worthington to Worthington Kilbourne. That committee is composed of parent representatives from each school building, as well as students, district leaders and board members.
On March 25, it presented its recommendations to the school board. The committee recommended Slate Hill Elementary move to Worthington Kilbourne. That means current sixth-graders at Slate Hill will attend Worthingway Middle School for seventh and eighth grade but then will move to Worthington Kilbourne as ninth-graders in fall 2021.
It will take several years, but with this shift, we will begin to see the enrollment balance between the two schools. This change will enable the school district to make the best use of available space and to keep opportunities equitable for students at both high schools.
After analyzing all the data, Slate Hill was the clear choice for the move.
Several factors were considered, including capacity, drive time and route and balancing socio-economic and racial diversity.
The feeder-pattern committee met for several hours four times and followed a selection process that was community-driven, transparent, methodical and data-based.
The change is not happening for another two years, and in the meantime, the district is working through the details of grandfathering, open enrollment and transportation for those families who might end up with a child at both high schools at the same time.
We want to ensure families have options if they find themselves in a situation with children assigned to different high schools.
We want to do all we can to keep families together and make the transition as smooth as possible for those affected.
In October, the feeder-pattern committee will reconvene to determine which elementary schools will feed to which middle schools.
This decision will be made once we have updated data on 2019-20 enrollment and the most accurate building capacity numbers from our architects.
Worthington Schools' current growth rate is unprecedented. Add to that our aging facilities and the ever-evolving ways we educate our students, and we are addressing some serious challenges.
It's important to understand all our school buildings likely will be impacted by these changes -- from adding modular classrooms to changing feeder patterns to renovating buildings -- everyone will experience a degree of change at some point.
Change is never easy, and that's why we want residents' input at every turn. Our goal is to communicate, be fully transparent and keep community schools and friendships together, while getting the absolute most from the resources we have.
The slides from the feeder-pattern committee's school board presentation are available on the Worthington Schools website, worthington.k12.oh.us.
Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.