Parents pushed back on Warren County Public Schools’ proposal to redraw school attendance zones at several elementary schools given enrollment growth and the new Cumberland Trace Elementary School, which is set to open in August.
At a WCPS school board meeting Thursday, its members and district administrators reiterated that the plan will not touch current high school and middle school attendance lines.
Still, parents worried their children might have to endure yet another difficult change amid a school year defined by the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed changes impact students attending Alvaton, Briarwood, Cumberland Trace, Jody Richards, Lost River, Natcher and Warren elementary schools, according to the district.
Melissa Bull was among several parents from the Hunting Creek neighborhood who opposed a change that would see their children moved to Lost River Elementary from nearby Natcher Elementary.
“This year has been really hard. My children, like so many, they thrive on routine and consistency,” Bull said. “... What I’ve heard from my neighbors is they all feel like they have to move. We all feel like no one will buy our house because nobody wants to move into the new school district setting, and we won’t be able to move because nobody’s going to buy our house ...
“Our neighbors don’t go to Warren Central (High School),” Bull said, referring to the high school Lost River Elementary feeds into. “They pay and they go out. … Even my next-door neighbor said ‘Oh, I became the head of the PTO at another school because I needed to make sure that my kids were going to go to better schools.’ ”
Several board members, including WCPS board Chairman Kerry Young, said they would send their own children to any school in the district if put in a similar spot.
Wherever parents send their kids to school, Young said, “every one of them is a great school. No matter what the perception is in our community.”
WCPS has said changes to some elementary school attendance zones are needed in light of enrollment growth and two new replacements for Rich Pond and Cumberland Trace elementary schools.
Regardless, nothing is final until the board votes on a plan, which won’t happen until another board meeting Feb. 22 at Greenwood High School.
The draft plan is available for review on the district’s website, warrencountyschools.org/content/63270, where stakeholders can also share their feedback with the school board.
Thursday’s board meeting, held at Warren Central, featured a presentation from WCPS Chief Financial Officer Chris McIntyre outlining the proposal.
McIntyre noted the explosive growth of housing developments within the district. Since 2013, the district has added more than 2,600 students, growing its total enrollment to about 17,000.
Because further enrollment growth is inevitable, tough decisions are necessary, McIntyre said.
Still, he said WCPS wants to allow parents to have a say in the matter.
“We want to make sure it’s a transparent process by which everyone has input,” McIntyre said.