A plan to alleviate elementary school overcrowding by changing attendance boundaries could affect hundreds of children in the Oklahoma City district.
Dozens of district schools would be targeted by the plan, which includes adding 22 portable buildings — the equivalent of 44 classrooms — and closing Jackson Middle School and reopening it as an elementary school.
Most of the schools affected are on the city’s south side, which is experiencing sharp population increases in the Hispanic community.
“I’m not thrilled to death with any of it,” said Ron Millican, a board member whose district includes six schools affected by the proposed boundary changes. “But we do have to give them some relief. We don’t have enough classrooms in some of those buildings.”
Six portable buildings are being proposed for two other elementary schools in Millican’s district — Parmelee and Southern Hills.
District officials called the proposal, which is based on current and future enrollment projections, a “temporary solution.” Another bond issue to build new schools appears to be the only long-term fix.
Most southside schools were a part of the MAPS for Kids construction plan.
However, enrollment projections in the 2001 bond measure did not anticipate the large population growth that has occurred in the area, officials said.
Under the proposal, some students who attend Cesar Chavez Elementary would be required to attend Wheeler Elementary or Hayes Elementary, beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
Chavez, with 936 students, is among the largest elementary schools in the district. Capacity is 865, and the district predicts 1,238 students will be enrolled by 2018.
Lee Elementary Principal Shelly Deas, who could lose students to Capitol Hill Elementary, expressed mixed feelings about the changes.
“I think my parents are going to be upset because they love our school,” Deas said Tuesday. “But I think it can be a very positive thing if it allows our sixth-graders to stay.”
Lee does not serve sixth-graders but that could change when Jackson closes, she said.
George Kimball, the district’s chief information officer, will present the plan to school board members Thursday. The board is not expected to take action until next month.
Lee Elementary School parent Theresa Reyes said her two children would not have to change schools, but she feels bad for those who do.
“It’s a real inviting and warm place. There’s a lot of parent involvement,” Reyes said of Lee Elementary. “I wouldn’t want any of the other kids to have to leave because they’ve been there for years.”