Lindbergh board to consider approval of elementary, middle-school zones

If school board OKs new boundaries, they will be effective next school year.


Approval of new elementary-school and middle-school boundaries is scheduled to be considered next week by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

The Board of Education will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in its new meeting room in the district’s new Early Childhood Education center, 4814 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The proposed new elementary-school and middle-school boundaries were unveiled Elementary School that attracted roughly 75 parents. The new boundaries, which will be effective for the 2011-2012 school year, are necessitated by the district’s efforts to ease overcrowding at Sperreng Middle School, which has more than 1,300 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders jammed into a building that was designed to accommodate 800 pupils when it opened in 1970.

The district’s Parent Boundary Committee is recommending that only Truman Elementary School pupils be moved when new elementary-school boundaries are established for the coming school year.

As proposed, pupils currently attending Crestwood, Long, Kennerly and Sappington elementary schools will continue to attend those schools for the 2011-2012 school year. The roughly 800 pupils who now attend Truman Elementary School would be divided among three of the existing four elementary schools and the new Concord Elementary School.

The committee is proposing that roughly 500 of the 800 pupils now at Truman Elementary will attend Concord Elementary next year with the remaining pupils divided among Crestwood, Long and Sappington elementary schools. Kennerly Elementary currently is over capacity.

The 13-member Parent Boundary Committee began meeting in November. Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane is serving as chairman of the panel, which has two co-chairs — Long Elementary School Principal Brian McKenney, who also is the district’s director of elementary education, and Sperreng Middle School Principal Jennifer Tiller.

All of the remaining committee members are parents, including three from Truman Elementary School, which will become the district’s second middle school for the 2011-2012 school year, and three from Sperreng Middle School. Also serving on the panel is one parent from each of the remaining elementary schools — Crestwood, Kennerly, Long and Sappington.

Two forums were conducted in December by the Parent Boundary Committee to solicit input to help the panel develop criteria to formulate the new boundaries.

Proposition R 2008, a $31 million bond issue approved by district voters in November 2008, is funding the long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng. More than 72 percent of voters approved the measure, which did not increase the school district’s debt-service tax rate, but extended the existing rate of 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation an additional five years.

While Sperreng will remain a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, funds from Prop R 2008 are being used to convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth-through eighth-grade middle school, add onto Crestwood and Long elementary schools, convert Concord School to an elementary school and construct a new Early Childhood Education building next to the Administration Building at 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd. Work is well under way on Concord Elementary while the new ECE building opened to pupils earlier this week.

Of the roughly 75 people attending the Jan. 25 public forum at Truman Elementary School, the majority were parents of pupils who currently attend Truman.

Explaining the process for establishing new school boundaries, Lanane told parents at the forum that the committee developed “guiding principles” based largely on comments made at the two public forums in December.

Those guiding principles were:

• Middle schools need nearly equal numbers of pupils.

• Elementary schools should have — within a narrow range — nearly equal percentage enrollment capacity. Using the guiding principles, the committee then developed criteria to follow in formulating the new boundaries.

“… You just don’t start drawing lines on a piece of paper,” Lanane said. “You have to understand why you’re drawing them and what is your motivation and what’s your goal in drawing those lines? … I’ll be coming back over and over again tonight to the criteria because that’s really the only way you can say: Well, here’s why we did it. Certainly there can and will be differences of opinion, but you have to have a rationale, a basis for making decisions.

Criteria used by the committee included:

• Use residential — within the boundary lines — enrollment to determine each school’s base enrollment.

• To the extent possible, try to keep neighborhoods together. A subdivision generally was considered to be a neighborhood.

• Try not to create “pocket boundaries” that have attendance islands not connected to a school’s base enrollment area.

• To the extent possible, use major streets as boundary lines — Interstate 270, Lindbergh Boulevard and Gravois Road, for example.

•Be as economical as possible.

• Try to establish boundaries that will last a number of years and accommodate future population trends.

Additional considerations utilized by the committee included:

• To the extent possible, minimize disruption for families already in elementary attendance areas outside of Truman.

• To the extent possible, send students to the closest school.

Regarding sending pupils to the closest school, Lanane said, “If I could take back one statement that I have made over the last six months, it would be that one because as I’ve worked through this, it ain’t possible … The laws of physics and mathematics are both against this when it comes to that particular concept.”

He later elaborated, saying, “… One of the other things you find out when you get into this, you can look at a neighborhood, maybe a hundred houses, sometimes they’ll have three kids coming out of those hundred houses. That shocked me. I did not expect it to be that stilted one way or the other. In fact, in general right now today — and as I said, that’s going to change over the next 10 years — we are not a very densely populated district in terms of school kids …”

While roughly 500 pupils will attend the new Concord Elementary, the proposed elementary boundaries will add 126 pupils to Crestwood Elementary, 76 pupils to Long Elementary and 65 pupils to Sappington Elementary. Kennerly Elementary will remain unchanged as it is already over capacity, according to Lanane.

As for the proposed middle-school boundaries, Crestwood and Long pupils and pupils residing in the south Interstate 270 area of Concord will attend Truman. Kennerly and Sappington pupils and pupils residing in the Concord area around Concord Elementary School will attend Sperreng.

Lanane said the residential boundary counts before adding special programs are Truman at 602 pupils and Sperreng at 605 pupils — an almost perfect balance.

Information about the recommended boundaries is available on the district’s website at

, Lanane said.

Of roughly 120 e-mails he received about the proposed boundaries, 80 “were just simply questions,” he said, adding, “We’ve had 17 that I would say were very positive … and there’s probably about 27 who I would say expressed a concern, whether (they) mildly expressed it or strongly expressed it …”

Lanane also cited a final guiding principle, “Another basic tenet becomes apparent as the final pieces are put together: There will be varying degrees of agreement and disagreement on an individual family basis. I believe these decisions need to be made based on fiscal responsibility, and doing what best serves the greatest number of students.”