More details have been released about the Muscogee County School District’s proposal to reassign students to different schools, starting next school year.
The number of students, their schools, their neighborhoods and the dates for the public forums to further explain this proposal were presented Monday evening during the Muscogee County School Board’s monthly work session.
MCSD superintendent David Lewis said the plan still could be changed, but, as of now, approximately 370 out of the roughly 31,700 students in the district would be reassigned to a different school in what Lewis calls “spot rezoning.”
The rezoning has three main goals: make room for growth in north Columbus; more efficiently use space in south Columbus; and accommodate the impact of the August opening of the new Spencer High School, which is being constructed on Fort Benning Road.
More efficiency in south Columbus
At Dorothy Height Elementary School, which has an enrollment of 675 students and capacity for 740, approximately 140 students who are being bused from the Washington Heights and Bunker Hill subdivisions would be reassigned to St. Marys Road Magnet Academy, which has 340 students and capacity for more than 550.
This would allow those students to attend school closer to home and increase the St. Marys enrollment over the 450-student threshold for an elementary school to receive full funding from the state.
This rezoning also would allow room for Dorothy Height to add pre-kindergarten classes, taking three of the seven from South Columbus. That’s one more than the two pre-K classes mentioned during the board’s Feb. 3 retreat, when the administration first presented this plan.
These moves would result in enrollments of 600 at Dorothy Height and 480 at St. Marys Road.
The public forum to discuss this part of the proposal will be conducted Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in St. Marys Road.
Handling growth in north Columbus
North Columbus Elementary School, with an enrollment of 790 students, has no more seats or classrooms for students in kindergarten, second grade and third grade, said MCSD Central Region chief James Wilson. So approximately 100 students who are being bused to North Columbus from the Heiferhorn, Timber Creek and Twin Chapel subdivisions would be reassigned to Double Churches Elementary School, which is closer to them.
This also would decrease traffic on Veterans Parkway during drop-off and pick-up times.
To make room for the additional students at Double Churches, two of the school’s seven pre-K classes would be moved to River Road, where Allen’s pre-K students also would attend.
These moves would result in enrollments of 690 at North Columbus and 600 at Double Churches.
Cathy Williams, the board’s District 7 representative, asked the administration to reconsider the plan to send Heiferhorn students to different schools. She noted the map in the presentation shows some students assigned to Double Churches would have to be driven through North Columbus’ attendance zone to reach Double Churches.
“I’ll fine-tune the map,” Wilson said.
The public forum to discuss this part of the proposal will be conducted March 1 at 6 p.m. in Double Churches.
Bringing students back to Spencer
Spencer High School’s enrollment is approximately 800 students. The state fully funds high schools only when they have at least 970 students. Spencer’s new facility is being constructed to accommodate more than 1,200 students.
The proposal calls for moving approximately 130 students who are being bused to Carver – 30 from Avalon Apartments and 100 from the Holly Hills and Mount Vernon subdivisions – and reassigning them to the new Spencer.
These moves would results in enrollments of 1,000 at Carver and 930 at Spencer.
Wilson said 110 students are currently zoned for Spencer but attend elsewhere because they were granted hardship transfers or were accepted into magnet programs. Having a state-of-the-art building for Spencer is expected to attract many of those students back to Spencer, he said. That would bring the school’s enrollment past the 970-student threshold to receive full state funding.
The public forum to discuss this part of the proposal will be conducted Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in Carver.
If the numbers permit, the following exceptions would be taken into consideration, according to the proposal:
In elementary school, rising fifth-graders and their siblings could remain at their current school. In high schools, rising juniors and seniors and their siblings could remain at their current school. Students in specialized programs, including magnet schools, and their siblings could remain at their current school.
The Muscogee County School District will conduct three public forums to explain its proposed rezoning before the administration asks the board to approve the plan during its March meeting:
- Feb. 22, 6 p.m., Carver High School
- Feb. 27, 6 p.m., St. Marys Road Magnet Academy
- March 1, 6 p.m., Double Churches Elementary School