Rezoning public forum

This week, Auburn City Schools hosted two public forums to garner input from the community about the proposed plan to rezone elementary school boundaries.

This week, Auburn City Schools hosted two public forums to garner input from the community about the proposed plan to rezone elementary school boundaries.

Scott Leopold, a consultant on the rezoning project, said all feedback would be considered before finalizing the proposal.

"I can't remember the last time we haven't taken a boundary and tweaked it based on community feedback," he said at the forum on Monday night.

Daniel Chesser, public relations specialist with ACS, said the forums brought principals, teachers and parents out to discuss the proposal.

"This week's forums helped bring awareness to the process," he said. "The survey numbers I think will grow over the next couple of weeks."

The survey he spoke of is an online survey that community members will be able to participate in through Tuesday. Accompanying the survey is a 15 minute video that details the boundary proposal.

As of Tuesday evening, about 1,500 people had watched the video online and about 200 had completed the online survey, Chesser said.

The survey and video can be found online at www.dejongrichter.com/acs/.

On Nov. 15, after the survey deadline, the consultants will put together a report detailing the feedback that was received and will present that information to ACS administration. Then, a new proposed plan will be presented to the board in December and board members will have time to review the plan before being called to vote on it in January.

Chesser said he believes there is a good chance changes will be made to the rezoning proposal after the feedback is considered.

"I think it'd be very possible, just based on what Scott says and that they do this consulting all over the country and have never not made a tweak to a plan," he said. "But that will all be based on the feedback they receive over the next week."

The current proposed boundary changes start with Auburn Early Education Center and Ogletree Elementary School.

Students north of I-85 and East Samford Road will move from attending AEEC and Ogletree to attending Dean Road Elementary and Wrights Mill Elementary. This change would impact 119 students, with 100 of those being in grades kindergarten through fourth and would allow for future growth at the AEEC and Ogletree pair, which would see a reduction of 73 students.

Meanwhile, students living west of North Donahue Drive would be moved from attending Dean Road and Wrights Mill to going to sister schools Richland Elementary School, the new elementary school off Richland Road, which will open in time for the next school year, and Yarbrough Elementary School. The proposed configuration for these three schools would be for Richland Elementary to house kindergarten and first grade; the new elementary school to house second and third grades; and Yarbrough Elementary to house grades four and five.

This boundary change would impact 169 students.

A second boundary change affecting Dean Road and Wrights Mill would involve students living north of Glenn Avenue, who would normally be students of AEEC and Ogletree or Cary Woods and Pick elementary schools, to attend Dean Road and Wrights Mill. This would impact 239 students and would result in a net increase of 41 students in Dean Road and Wrights Mill. Since there is not a lot of anticipated growth for Dean Road and Wrights Mill schools, the consultants felt that increasing the enrollment there would help even things out, said Scott Leopold during an earlier work session with the Board of Education.

Sister schools Cary Woods Elementary and Pick Elementary would see a reduction of 112 students after those living south of Opelika Road and West Drake Avenue also move to attend Dean Road and Wrights Mill elementary schools. This would take Cary Woods from 100 percent capacity to 90 percent and Pick from 87 percent to 77 percent.

Students west of North Donahue Drive would move from attending Dean Road and Wrights Mill to attending Richland Elementary, the new elementary — which will contain 600 seats — and Yarbrough Elementary. Looking at projected enrollment and the additional students coming in from the boundary change, these schools will see an increase of 229 students, but the impact will be mitigated by the additional seats the new elementary school will provide.

Currently, Richland is at 108 percent capacity and Yarbrough is at 102 percent capacity. Once boundary changes occur and the new elementary school opens, Richland will be at 81 percent capacity; the new elementary school at 84 percent; and Yarbrough at 80 percent.

On Dec. 12, the consultants will present the recommended boundary plan to the Board of Education, and at the board meeting on Jan. 9, ACS Superintendent Karen DeLano plans to recommend the final plan for approval by the board.

Once this process is complete, the school system will move on to working with consultants to update its current facilities plan. The current one envisions facility needs through 2024, but an update would plan ahead to 2028.

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