Residential enrollment growing in Lindbergh

New elementary boundaries will take effect in 2011-2012

By MIKE ANTHONY

Lindbergh Schools’ residential enrollment continues to increase, according to projections presented last week to the Board of Education.

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Services Rick Francis presented enrollment projections for the 2010-2011 school year and for the next five years to board members during their Feb. 9 meeting.

“… To sort of put some of the history in perspective here, in 2004 we had 4,714 residential students K-12. Five years later, we had 5,316,” he said. “So over the past five years we have gained 602 kids — 602 residential students for an annual average of about 120 students per year …”

For the coming school year, residential enrollment is projected to increase by 123 students — 44 at the high school, 42 in middle school and 37 in elementary.

“… And as we look five years out, we’re expecting 609 students. So we continue to see residential growth,” Francis said.

As the district continues to phase out its participation in the voluntary transfer student program, he is projecting a total enroll-ment increase districtwide of 91 students for the coming school year and an increase of 437 students over the next five years.

Francis gave the following projections for the district’s elementary schools:

• Crestwood — “stable” next year at 311 pupils; a decrease of 53 pupils in five years.

• Kennerly — an increase of 28 pupils next year; an increase of 120 pupils in five years.

• Long — “very stable”; a decrease of five pupils in five years.

• Sappington — an increase of 23 pupils next year; an increase of 99 pupils in five years.

• Truman — a decrease of 22 pupils next year; a decrease of 24 pupils in five years.

“So we see our greatest growth in the current Kennerly and Sappington attendance areas and we’ll need to monitor this very closely as we bring to the Board of Education next February the (new) elementary boundary lines …,” Francis said.

The elementary redistricting is being ne-cessitated 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.

With the goal of providing a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng, the school board placed Proposition R 2008, a $31 million bond issue, on the November 2008 ballot.

More than 72 percent of voters approved the measure, which did not increase Lindbergh’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 will be 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.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Concord Elementary School and Early Childhood Education Building were conducted in December.

For the coming school year, Francis reported total elementary school enrollment is projected to increase by 25 pupils next year and by 137 pupils in five years.

For Sperreng Middle School, an increase of 18 pupils is projected next year with 172 more pupils in five years.

“(We’re) moving into the two middle schools in the 2011-2012 school year,” Francis said. “Thank goodness because it will address the current space concerns we have at Sperreng.”

For Lindbergh High School, an increase of 48 students is projected next year with 128 additional students in five years.

“So as evidenced in our residential growth, Lindbergh is a very attractive school district for young families with kids. Many of the administrators have been told by real estate agents … the home sales are better here than they are in a lot of places and one of the factors they attribute that to is the Lindbergh School District,” he said. “Of course, we’ve got budget reductions and pending tax levies that they say may impact the future real estate market.”

Board member Mark Rudoff asked Francis, “… Residential enrollment is going to increase by a total of 609 (in five years) and then the voluntary transfer program is going to decrease by 156. Shouldn’t the total enrollment projections be the difference between 609 and 156?”

Francis replied, “Not necessarily, because you do have some movement in and out of kids leaving the school district, kids coming into the school district and so forth … It won’t be a perfect number, Mark.”

Regarding the new elementary school boundaries for 2011-2012 that will be presented to the board next February, Superintendent Jim Simpson told the Call he anticipates the changes will be minor.

“This is the mildest redistricting. This is not closing schools. This is not something in which whole neighborhoods are going to be bused across town,” he said. “I mean if you really think about it on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the most abhorrent redistricting efforts based on some kind of extreme enrollment declines or so forth, this is probably a one or a two. It’s really working at the edges. Crestwood keeps its own enrollment area, but it does need another hundred-plus students, and so those will just sort of be added on to the edges of Crestwood.

“It’s very logical. We’re not having anybody drive across the district to get from one place to the other,” Simpson said. “We’re very neighborhood-school focused and so we want that school to represent their neighborhood, and that becomes their zone. We don’t think anybody should have to drive by a school to get to another school.”

Another result of Prop R 2008 will be “perfect-sized” schools, the superintendent said.

“… We’re looking forward to having very balanced campuses in our district. Our elementaries will all be just about equal size … That’s pretty nice,” he said. “And then you say: Where else are we equal? Well, our middles then become almost exactly equal. So that actually gives a lot of synergy because then you have the same number of classes usually in each building …

“Some parents would like their child to go to a smaller school or a bigger school or something. Well, they’re all what I think are right sized. They’re perfect sized. Most educational literature and research would say that is a great size for a middle school and an elementary. It gives you all the programs that you need …,” Simpson said.