Mustang eyes school redistricting plan

(Map courtesy Mustang Public Schools)

By Traci Chapman

With Mustang Public Schools enrollment topping 10,000 students, officials are looking at a way to more evenly distribute classroom sizes throughout the district.

Deputy Superintendent Charles Bradley is spearheading work on a redistricting plan, studying available options to shift students from schools that have large class sizes.

“We are looking at what options are available to reduce the number of students in high growth areas,” Bradley told Mustang school board members earlier this month.

The district looks at building permits and enrollment at each site to determine where growth might be seen, Bradley said. A steering committee has been working to address the issue and come up with ideas for redistricting. The next step will to move to an advisory board made up of members of the community, parents and district representative, he said.

“We would like to get this in front of the board in March – we would like to allow time to go back and forth and come up with a really good model,” he said.

Redistricting would affect every student in the district at one time or the other, with the exception of those already attending high school, board president Chad Fulton said. Shifting students between schools could be perceived negatively by parents and students alike, and officials wanted to make sure the community was kept aware of the process, he and Bradley said. Time was of the essence, Fulton said.

“My concern is that if we hold off on this until next summer and then have to tell the parents that their kids are going to different schools,” he said. “I would like to give the community some time so they can make that transition.”

“We don’t want to extend anyone’s time on a bus,” Bradley said.

In order to make their timetable, officials said they hoped to get a plan on the district’s website in January, so residents could review it and pose questions to officials.

At the same time, work continues on a new elementary school located at SW 59th and County Line Road. That school, slated to open in time for the 2014 school year, will service an area district officials have identified as high growth, said Shannon Rigsby, Mustang public information officer.

“We are seeing incredible growth in the north end of the district,” she said. “Plat maps that detail new or expanding housing areas in the northern part of the district show the growth is going to continue.”

The last time Mustang redrew site boundaries was in 2007, when Centennial Elementary was built. Bailey said the district had learned some things during that process and hoped to avoid issues that came up at that time. The district also allocated $800,000 for acquisition of “land for the construction of future schools and/or district facilities in the south and central areas of the district” in a new bond issue slated to go to voters Feb. 11. It was not immediately known what specific construction or acquisition the issue would include.