Published 2/19/2013 in Local News : Education By Rachael GrayBy RACHAEL GRAY
The USD 457 Board of Education Monday night continued a discussion on potentially moving the boundaries for Horace J. Good and Kenneth Henderson middle schools.
School officials cite overcrowding at KHMS as the reason for the proposed boundary change, in addition to housing developments going up in the northeast part of the city.
Jean Clifford, board president, expressed concerns about the boundaries being changed so quickly.
In 2008, when the district came up with a long-range facilities plan, district officials knew the middle school boundaries would have to change. Those boundaries were changed in 2011 with a more “neighborhood” schools concept, where students went to the closest school.
Clifford said growth can happen in any part of the city.
“...We can’t keep switching these boundaries around on the community. We need some stability,” she said.
Clifford also called for the district to look at reinstating transfer requests for students who want to attend certain schools.
USD 457 Deputy Superintendent Steve Karlin said the proposed border change was caused by overcrowding already occurring at KHMS and housing developments that went up after the plans were made for the boundaries.
“Any time you draw a boundary, you come to a point where you’re going to need to re-do it,” Karlin said. “Unfortunately, we had to after a year. I think that’s going to give us enough room that these boundaries should last about five years.”
Lara Bors, board member, asked whether the board would consider waiting another year, to see where more housing developments are going up in the city.
Karlin recommended that the board decide this year to address the overcrowding at KHMS.
Gloria Hopkins, board member, said she encourages the new boundaries for next school year.
“One thing I like about doing this now is it gives an equal student-teacher ratio (at both schools). It keeps the class sizes the same. That keeps the community from having a favorite middle school. I think this needs to happen. It’s better to acknowledge the shortcomings in the current boundaries, adjust for it and move on,” she said.
The KHMS target for the 2011-12 school year, when the boundaries were redesigned, was about 400-450 students. Actual enrollment in the fall of 2012 was 475 students, according to Karlin.
Factoring into that high number were about 70 seventh-graders who opted to stay at KHMS for their eighth-grade year, but actually live in the new HGMS boundary.
Karlin said that in the fall, officials found the large number of students created some big challenges in the building.
He also said with the way Garden City is growing, and with more development in the northeast part of town, it only makes sense to leave those areas as KHMS areas.
Under the staff’s recommendations, Horace Good Middle School may pick up students who live in the area north of Mary Street, west of Belmont Street, south of the bypass and east of Third Street. Students in that area currently are designated to attend KHMS.
Another section of town where students may be sent to HGMS is between Center Street and Campus Drive, and between Kansas Avenue and Johnson Street/Crestway Drive. Both areas are currently adjacent to HGMS areas.
The boundary changes will only affect incoming sixth-graders. Seventh-graders will get to finish in their current schools, Karlin said.
The district has held more meetings with families and made phone calls inviting the families to the meetings, Karlin said Monday night.
The sections in town in question are adjacent to HGMS boundaries, officials said.
The board is expected to consider making a decision at its March 4 meeting.
Monday night’s meeting also included information about an Instructional Transformation Initiative that would be a comprehensive plan in launching students to literacy, as well as lining curriculum up with Common Core Standards expectations.
In January, 70 staff members heard from Susan Szachowicz, a retired principal from Brockton High School in Massachusetts.
The school has similar traits to USD 457, in that the school is majority-minority, has a high poverty rate and English Language Learners.
The school took brought its test scores up between 1999 and 2012.
Over that time period, they focused on rigor, relevance and relationships in their school.
“Literacy formed the foundation of the work they did,” Darren Dennis, assistant superintendent of learning services, said.
USD 457 hopes to mirror what Brockton did. They hope to get staff members involved and excited about the process, Dennis said.
“This is in the beginning stages. We’re excited about the prospects. We are really hoping to build some buy-in with the staff. We may have up to a sixth of the staff involved in committees,” Dennis said.
Leigh Ann Roderick, coordinator of elementary education, and Dennis plan to take 12 more staff members to hear Szachowicz speak.
The curriculum model would focus on literacy, reading, writing, language and reasoning.
Hopkins said the model sounds like it would coincide with the expectations of Common Core Standards.
“What it seems like you’re doing is teaching the student how to learn. ... I think we’re going to wire them from the beginning on how to think and solve problems. I think that’s awesome,” he said.
Bors said the new model sounds as if it’s going to add more time and responsibilities on to teachers.
“Are we going to take a hard look at what we’re asking our teachers to be teaching in the allotted time?” she asked.
Dennis said the initiative focuses on instruction and that every student can receive a good education if they have proper instruction.
Bors said the school budget then is critical.
“Without funding, there won’t be any instruction,” she said.
Rick Atha, superintendent, is in favor of the initiative.
“I do think the teachers have bought into Common Core. Not all of them, though. But most think we should have been doing that five to 10 years ago. I think this will catch on, too,” he said.
Found 7 comment(s)!
Time has come
I guess the time has come to milk the taxpayers again so we can build a Palace of sports Middle School to match the High school!
Posted by: Jimbo on 2/28/2013
Not a "Rich" School
KHMS currently has a student body make-up of 65% disadvantaged and 35% non-disadvantaged so the idea that they are a "rich" school is a community urban myth. You can check for yourself at the Department of Education website and get statistics for ANY building in the district. Checking your facts before sounding off makes it possible for you to stop yourself from sounding like a fool.
Posted by: Concerned about Ignorance on 2/23/2013
Compare the Middle Schools...
If you look at the KSDE report cards for both schools, HGMS already has 10% more Hispanic and Low Income students. One of the areas that they are considering changing to HG boundaries is predominately low income rentals. Shouldn't there be an effort to keep the schools balanced? I agree that KH is not a "rich" school, but they definitely have fewer "at-risk" students and will have even less if the boundaries are changed.
I think curious citizen makes a completely valid point - exactly what are the differences? I've heard that Horace Good doesn't have that much extra space either, and I'm sure their class sizes aren't that much smaller.
Seems like more poor planning from good old USD 457.
Posted by: Another GC Resident on 2/22/2013
Know your facts...
Hey Jimbo, the kids from East Garden Village and the vast majority of the VO/CSIC kids get zoned to KH so it's not a rich school at all!
Posted by: GCResident on 2/21/2013
They won't combine because if they did the rich kids wouldn't have thier own school anymore. And we can't have that!!!!
Maybe instead of a million dollar bathroom they should have added on to KHMS...
Posted by: Jimbo on 2/20/2013
Combine the Schools
Why don't they just combine and make one Jr. High out of the High School?
Posted by: Parent of jr. high student on 2/19/2013
not enough info
If 70 out of the 475 students are 8th graders living in the new boundaries who will be graduating this year and going to the high school, why is this an issue? Shouldn't the numbers stabilize after the 8th grade class graduates, which means the need wouldn't be there? What is the enrollment and student/teacher ratio at HGMS compared to KHMS? This just seems hasty with the information given.
Posted by: curious citizen on 2/19/2013