The Auburn City Schools Board of Education heard a proposal for how it could rezone elementary school boundaries during a work session this week.
The school board has been aiming to rezone the schools in time for the 2018-19 school year, which is also when the new elementary school will open on Richland Road.
The rezoning proposal came from Cooperative Strategies, a consulting firm that worked with ACS in 2014 to develop its Facilities Plan 2024, and would affect 342 elementary students or roughly 10 percent of the elementary school population.
"We erred on the side, if we don't have to move them, let's not move them," said Scott Leopold of Cooperative Strategies. "We didn't want to have a situation where we move them and then four or five years later have to move them back."
The consultants started the rezoning plan process in June and considered different options based on projected enrollment and a handful of guiding principles, such as only moving the fewest amount of students as possible, considering student proximity to schools whose boundaries were being changed and optimizing the use of each facility while also factoring in future growth.
The proposed rezoning draft will be presented to the public in two forums on Nov. 6 and 7, where surveys and discussion groups will then be conducted to garner input on the plan. Both forums will take place at 6 p.m. at the Auburn High School cafeteria.
Then, the input will be considered by ACS staff before Superintendent Karen DeLano makes a final recommendation to the board, likely in January.
Details of the proposed rezoning plan will be made public on the ACS website, auburnschools.org, by Friday to give the public plenty of time to review it. Those who cannot attend the forums will be able to take an online survey, which will be made available until Nov. 14.
The 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 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 is currently under construction, and Yarbrough Elementary School. The proposed configuration for the latter three schools would be for Richland Elementary to house kindergarten through first grade; the new elementary school to house second through 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.
"What we wanted to do in this particular situation is get enrollment up in this school because we don't have any anticipated growth within the Dean Road and Wrights Mill boundary," Leopold said. "So, we go from 79 percent (capacity) to 86 percent (at Dean Road) and 82 percent to 86 percent (at Wrights Mill)."
Sister schools Cary Woods Elementary and Pick Elementary would see a reduction of 112 students after students south of Opelika Road and West Drake Avenue 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.
The new elementary school off Richland Road, for which a name is forthcoming, will open in 2018 with 600 seats. Students west of North Donahue Drive would move to attending Richland Elementary, the new elementary and Yarbrough Elementary from Dean Road and Wrights Mill. 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 100 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.
"We've got some room to grow in this area as well," Leopold said.
Both public forums will be conducted the same way, presenting the same information. DeLano encouraged residents to provide input, whether online or by attending a forum.
"I just want the public to know that this is truly a time we will listen and want to hear their input," she said.