After two public input sessions and dozens of phone calls and emails, the Shawnee Mission School District has agreed to tweak its plan to redraw attendance boundaries for 11 elementary schools.
District officials on Thursday released an updated plan that changes the recommended new boundaries for three schools — Rhein Benninghoven, Christa McAuliffe and Lenexa Hills, a new school under construction.
The Shawnee Mission school board is scheduled to vote on the new plan at its May 22 meeting. If approved, the changes would go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.
The board announced the proposed changes in March and said they were designed to deal with crowding in some elementary schools, take advantage of space in schools with lower enrollment, accommodate new home construction and prepare for the 2018 opening of Lenexa Hills.
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During the public meetings, a number of parents of children at Benninghoven expressed concerns about moving to Christa McAuliffe. Benninghoven is a feeder for Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Christa McAuliffe is a feeder for Shawnee Mission West High School. Christa McAuliffe is also a so-called “split feeder” school that advances students to two middle schools, potentially disrupting friendships and neighborhoods.
The updated plan largely maintains Christa McAuliffe’s current boundaries, which would incorporate fewer Benninghoven students. Students living from 71st Street to Blackfish Parkway west of Rene and Park streets to Lackman Road would move to Christa McAuliffe but could choose to remain in the Shawnee Mission Northwest feeder pattern.
Students living in the Autumn Park and Timberstone subdivisions between Midland Drive and Lackman Road would have the option of attending Benninghoven or Christa McAuliffe but would have to remain in that school’s feeder pattern once enrolled.
In addition, no Christa McAuliffe students would move to Lenexa Hills, as previously planned.
Proposed boundary changes for Broken Arrow, Mill Creek, Rising Star, Shawanoe, Sunflower, East Antioch, Rosehill and Overland Park remain unchanged.
District officials said people also raised issues about the safety of students walking to school, having to travel farther to school, school demographics and neighborhoods or subdivisions split between schools. However, they said other parents praised the plan for consolidating their neighborhood into a single school, allowing their students to walk to school and giving them a year to plan for the changes.
“While we couldn’t address every concern, we believe this revised recommendation meets the district’s goals,” district officials said in a news release accompanying the updated plan.