Kings weighs rapid growth
Over the next decade Kings is projected to grow by up to 600 new students enrolling from nine housing developments currently planned, or already under construction, within the district.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Superintendent Tim Ackermann told a crowd of about 75 people last week at an evening meeting in the Columbia Intermediate School cafeteria.
Ackermann, along with Assistant Superintendent Tim Spinner and other Kings staff, led the first of three Community Enrollment Meetings to discuss with parents, teachers and residents the issue of growth at Kings
Kings has partnered with a California-based company named Decision Insite to help estimate the volume of growth for new students. Decision Insite, according to their website, are “Enrollment Impact Specialists” and have run a series of tests to approximate how many students will move into Kings over the next decade.
Kings has grown slowly but steadily over the past several years, but a slate of new housing developments all within district borders will combine over the next few years to bring more than 1,200 new housing units into the Kings district.
Among these developments (and the total number of new housing units they will comprise) are Willow Brooke (217 units), Mason Grand (294 units), Towne of Deerfield (316 units), Deerfield Springs (164 units) and Rivercrest (217 units).
As construction ends at each development and families with school-age children start moving in, how will Kings accommodate this growth?
This series of meetings — a second meeting was held Oct. 14 in the KME cafeteria — is part of a larger effort to get community feedback on how to answer this question.
“I like to get as much input and feedback as I can before making a decision. As of now, no decision has been made,” Ackermann told the crowd.
Ackermann laid out 4 major options and asked the individuals at the meeting to discuss how they wanted to most efficiently expand the district. Kings could:
- Switch all current schools to grade-level buildings
- Redistrict: Redraw lines for which students attend which schools.
- Enact grade-level reconfiguration
- Construct new schools
OPTION 1: Moving to grade-level buildings would lead to students attending school in a different building every two years, according to the plan. There would most likely be a preschool-kindergarten building, a grades 1-2 building, a 3-4 building, a 5-6 building, then the junior high and high school buildings.
Some concerns that were raised by meeting participants were the high number of building transitions for every student, as well as the possible cutting of teaching positions. Some benefits of grade-level buildings could be an improvement in education because all teachers would be teaching the same grades, and teaching to smaller class sizes
OPTION 2: Redistricting would consist of changing the geographic area that each elementary school serves. This could help decrease enrollment at the currently-overcrowded Kings Mills Elementary and expand enrollment at J.F. Burns and South Lebanon elementaries. This plan could be less complicated than grade-level buildings and would affect a smaller number of students. The new geographic boundaries would be determined later.
OPTION 3: Enacting Grade Level Reconfiguration is very similar to moving to grade-level buildings with the exception of having KME become the sole 3-4 building and JFB and SLE would become grades K-2 buildings. Students would attend one of the two K-2 buildings, through KME and then Columbia before transitioning to the Junior High and High School. This idea also has similar pros and cons to Option 1, with the possibility of a DIF, or decrease in force of teachers later on.
OPTION 4: Building an entirely new building could be the least popular option. Mainly due to the fact that it would be rather expensive, and Ackerman said that Kings doesn’t necessarily require more classrooms — it just needs to reconfigure where students attend school.
A third meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28 in the South Lebanon Elementary School cafeteria.
By Caleb Ewing and Nick Coniglio
graphics from Decision Insite