Shawnee Mission district offers plan to ease crowding at Brookridge, Briarwood

05/20/2014 8:28 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

The Shawnee Mission School District this week made known its plan to relieve overcrowding at two elementary schools by sending in-district transfer students back to their home schools, by moving an English Language Learners program elsewhere and by making a boundary change at one of the schools.

A group of parents from Briarwood Elementary, 5300 W. 86th St., made their opposition to potential boundary changes known at the April 28 school board meeting. More than a dozen of them surrounded Superintendent Jim Hinson after the meeting and urged him to leave them in the Briarwood attendance boundaries intact and instead to make the sort of changes he eventually announced.

In the interim, Hinson polled parents in the two schools — Brookridge Elementary is the other — about possible solutions, and factored their responses into the plan he announced Monday. The plan still needs approval by the school board to become official. The board is expected to take up the matter at its May 28 meeting.

If the plan is approved, starting in the fall, transfer students who had been attending the two schools would be made to return to their home schools. An exception to that rule would be made for fifth-graders, allowing them to complete their elementary education at their current school. However, any of their younger siblings who had also transferred in would have to move back to their home school.

In addition, the ELL program at Briarwood would move elsewhere, but not until the 2015-16 school year. It would remain at Briarwood for another school year, while the district studies where to put it.

Finally, the boundaries for Brookridge Elementary, 9920 Lowell Ave., would be adjusted under the plan. Students who live between 91st and 95th streets and between Metcalf and Lowell avenues would attend John Diemer Elementary, 9600 Lamar Ave. The district would provide busing for those students since the boundaries cross busy Metcalf Avenue.

About 106 Brookridge students would be affected by the plan — 87 by the boundary change and 19 in-district transfers, according to district spokeswoman Leigh Anne Neal.

Briarwood would see 28 transfer students return to their home schools.

In addition, 46 students currently receive center-level ELL services at Briarwood. Next school year, 19 ELL students will return to their home schools because they have graduated from the program and no longer need that level of service. Six current ELL students will move on to middle school.

All told then, Briarwood would see a reduction of 71 students from this year’s population.

According to a Sept. 20 count, Brookridge had 643 students while Briarwood had 589.

Principals at both Briarwood and Brookridge have phoned the families of current transfer students to inform them of the plan. Also, an email from the district was sent to each affected school community, outlining the recommendations.

District officials say they would work with the families of those current transfer students as well as those in the area recommended for the boundary change, to be certain that the transition is successful. Next school year, the district plans to communicate with the families of ELL students who would be affected by that program’s relocation.

In addition, district officials said they would continue to monitor the situation at Brookridge and Briarwood “to ensure enrollment challenges are successfully addressed long-term.”

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