Panel recommends only Truman pupils be moved for new elementary zones

Preliminary boundaries topic of public forum next Tuesday.

By MIKE ANTHONY

A Lindbergh Schools parent committee is recommending that only Truman Elementary School pupils be moved when new elementary-school boundaries are established for the coming school year, according to Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane.

As proposed, Lanane said 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 the district’s existing four elementary schools and the new Concord Elementary School.

The parent committee is redrawing elementary-school boundaries and establishing new middle-school boundaries with the goal of easing 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 13-member Parent Boundary Committee began meeting in November.

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.

The committee is very close to completing its recommendation for the revised elementary-school boundaries and new middle-school boundaries, Lanane said after the Jan. 11 Board of Education meeting.

“… We are getting closer. I think probably we have a pretty basic design that we’re just putting some final touches to. Kind of in the future here looking ahead at this, we will be putting that on our website …,” Lanane said of the Parent Boundary Committee’s recommendation, adding he hoped to have it on the school district’s website at

this week.

A public forum on the committee’s preliminary recommendation will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the Truman Elementary School cafeteria, 12225 Eddie & Park Road.

“… Based on what we hear there, we’ll make a decision that night, the committee, whether we need another meeting, which will actually be the next night …,” Lanane said, noting the goal is to present the proposed boundaries to the Board of Education on Feb. 8.

The board is expected to vote that night on the proposed boundaries, he said.

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 a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new ECE building is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 28.

The board voted in December 2009 to award a $15,503,500 contract for the two projects to Diestelkamp Construction Co., the lowest bidder. Thirteen bids were submitted for the two projects. The board voted in May to award a $6,374,000 contract to Tri-Co Inc. Commercial, the low bidder, for work at Crestwood and Long elementary schools.

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.

“… We think we’re using that input that we got from the forums to come up with (a) pretty common-sense approach …,” Lanane said.

Of the criteria developed by the committee, he said, “… One is that all our elementary schools have equitable enrollments on a proportional basis to their capacity. That’s a fancy way of saying: Hey, if we’re filling them all up at about 90-something percent, you shouldn’t have one at 30 percent and one at 90 (percent) .. Our elementaries are slightly different. We have one at 540 capacity, one at 440 and then three at 500.

“So you can’t say equal numbers of kids because you’ve got a little more or less room, but try to get them all within some range of being close … We’re very close to getting that part done like that,” he said.

The guiding principle for the middle school boundaries is “to try to get our numbers actually the same because the delivery model for instruction at the middle school is teaming, and so we want to try to have the same curriculum, the same numbers of teams giving very close to the same number of kids …,” Lanane said, noting the first effort at drawing boundaries resulted in a nearly identical number of pupils at each middle school. “It was an absolute miracle …”

Decisions on where to place such special populations as gifted students and English Language Learners have yet to be made.

Regarding open enrollment, Lanane said that families and staff who do not live within boundaries for the district or a particular school will go through the usual annual application process to request placement.

Lanane said parents whose children currently attend Crestwood, Long, Kennerly and Sappington can breathe a sigh of relief as those pupils will continue to attend those elementary schools.

“… If you sent your kids there last year …, you can kind of quit worrying about this. That’s where you’re going next year …,” the CFO said “There’s lots of other criteria, but one of them was well let’s see how little disruption we can do, not how much we can do …”

Truman pupils who live in Fenton will be among those reassigned to the new Concord Elementary School at 10305 Concord School Road.

“… Fenton is going to Concord, which we like because we want to keep Fenton together so they can carpool and have a place of their own. And they’re going to love Concord because it’s a spectacular new building and it’s going to be a great place for them …,” Superintendent Jim Simpson told the Call.