South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Lindbergh boundary panel narrows focus to one redistricting scenario

Lindbergh Boundary Committee plans to meet next on Wednesday, Feb. 22
Scenario 3, the chosen template for Lindberghs redistricting. For a link to a high-resolution version, check the article below.
Scenario 3, the chosen template for Lindbergh’s redistricting. For a link to a high-resolution version, check the article below.

The committee weighing in on redistricting in Lindbergh Schools narrowed down the scenarios it is considering last week from four to one, focusing in on the map that balances enrollment and minimizes future overcrowding.

Redistricting is necessary because the district’s sixth elementary school, Dressel Elementary, will open this fall.

The 650-student school will open nearly at capacity, but will help ease the overcrowding in the other elementary schools spurred by the district’s aggressive enrollment growth over the last several years.

The tough task the Boundary Committee is charged with includes filling the new school with the least disruption to current schools, neighborhoods and traffic patterns while still leaving room for growth in each school.

The panel considered four boundary templates created by the district’s technology team when it met Feb. 8: Scenario 1. Least amount of family movement necessary to fill Dressel, 2. Attend the closest schools, 3. Balance enrollment numbers and minimize future overcrowding, and 4. Create attendance zones based on the most efficient traffic patterns.

The leader of the committee, Chief Financial Officer Chuck Triplett, made it clear that the Boundary Committee is only considering redistricting, not a seventh elementary school or a future bond issue to fund its construction.

“Whoever the Board of Education is at that time will wrestle with that monster,” said Triplett, who is retiring in June.

The district is not holding formal open houses on redistricting, but will take comments through a Google form at

, and by email at Communications Director Beth Johnston is posting summaries and maps after each of the redistricting meetings on the website.

If parents are particularly unhappy with their child’s placement in a new school, they can request school choice. The deadline to apply for school choice will fall in mid-April, Johnston told the Call.

Parents from four neighborhoods have sent in pleas that committee members brought up at the meeting.

Grantwood Village parents presented a 143-signature petition asking that their children all stay in Long Elementary rather than be redirected to Sappington Elementary.

Another debate centers around whether all students from Fenton should be split up or keep going to the same school.

Parents representing eight students in Sunset Hills and Fenton sent a picture petition to committee members with photos of the eight students who want to stay at Concord Elementary. A committee member held up the students’ pictures at the meeting, noting that these children would be affected by the decisions made by the panel.

Parents in the Hidden Valley Estates subdivision in Hadley Hill in Sunset Hills also sent a letter requesting that their students stay at Concord, accompanied by pictures of their children.

Along with collecting signatures to stay at Long, Grantwood Village resident Dezmon Vitale created a fifth scenario centering on keeping Grantwood Village at Long.

Committee members disagreed on how much weight they should give to the petitions.

“I appreciate people want to stay there they are, but everybody’s going to petition and we’re not going to get anything done,” former board member and Kennerly Elementary parent Kara Horton said.

“If you’ve got that many people who sign a petition, I think you owe it to them to give it a look,” Crestwood parent Sean Saunders said.

What the final scenario will look like is still up for debate by the Boundary Committee and the public, since committee members chose Scenario 3 for its “tweakability,” or the ability to use it as a base from which to work.

To narrow committee discussions to a single template, committee members met in four small groups, with each group talking up the pros and cons of a template.

Scenario 3’s geography seems to make sense, with only a few areas — including Hadley Hill — that seem to randomly be sent to new schools, Director of Instruction and Development Megan Stryjewski said in her group’s presentation.

One of the eventually chosen template’s biggest strengths is evening out building capacity, with only a few schools at 100-percent capacity, and a path to evening out future growth, she added.

Under Scenario 3, another much-talked-about neighborhood, the “Crestwood sliver” of 43 children bordering Big Bend and Grant roads, moves from Crestwood to Long.

Saunders argued for the sliver to go to Long because “if we keep those 43 kids, the demographics change greatly in Crestwood,” while “money and volunteer hours go out of our school to Long” as more affluent neighborhoods shift out of Crestwood’s boundaries.

Scenario 1 was the committee’s second favorite, but they went for Scenario 3 unanimously instead.

The “tweakability index” was also very high for Scenario 1, which kept neighborhoods together and had relatively low movement, Lindbergh High Assistant Principal Mike Franklin said. But by 2021, both Sappington and Crestwood are overcrowded again under the scenario.

Horton’s group rejected Scenario 2 outright. That template had students attending the closest schools regardless of where they currently attend. But the scenario has three elementaries stuffed to capacity by 2021 and three others far below capacity, including Dressel.

Under Scenario 4, which was based on the most efficient traffic patterns, students from Fenton would go to Crestwood based on the fact that the quickest bus ride to get to a school would be on Interstate 44.

The committee rejected that scenario out of hand, stating that it is dangerous and would place children at risk of incidents like a recent bus fire on Interstate 44 in Sunset Hills on a Rockwood School District bus.

As pros, Crestwood and Long members believed Scenario 4 kept schools at good capacity numbers long-term, except Sappington. If everyone had to reshuffle schools, the district could bond together as a whole, they said. Students could attend school in central attendance zones.

“There’s a lot of people moving around, so that’s a lot of schools and families,” Sappington parent Sonia Kesselring said. “But Fenton is a huge concern for us with this map, splitting it into thirds.”

The committee will meet next on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

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