As the Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) prepares to add a 16th elementary school building to the district, the accompanying discussions on redistricting are beginning to ramp up.
During Thursday’s meeting of the Olentangy Board of Education, Chief of Administrative Services Randy Wright and Chief Communications Officer Krista Davis presented a timeline for redistricting to the board, as well as an update on enrollment projections.
Wright said during the presentation that the redistricting committee will be selected this week, and scenarios for redistricting will be presented in January. An announcement by OLSD Superintendent Mark Raiff is targeted for March 26.
Building leadership for the new elementary school, which has not yet been named, is scheduled to be hired in December and begin the role in January. The name of the school is expected to be announced in January.
Wright said one of the top priorities for the district in the redistricting process is for members of the Olentangy community to feel like they are a part of the buildings in which they are assigned to, although he acknowledged the size of the district can make that sense of community difficult.
We have steadfastly held the belief that all of our children deserve the same educational opportunities, regardless of which building they are assigned,” Wright told the board. “We have gone through in the last several of these processes to ensure that we understand that it’s not just about geographical lines or boundaries on a map that make up who we are.
“We think about the entire district every time we go into these processes. We try not to operate in a vacuum. We want to make sure that the decisions that we make are understood not only for the students impacted, but the families that are left behind, if you will, or are not considered (for redistricting).”
As for how redistricting is decided upon, Wright said the goal is to ensure that each and every building is being optimally utilized. Once that is ensured, he said the district wants to plan for having to discuss redistricting as few times as possible. Circumstances such as disparate student populations and, in this case, the opening of a new building also force the redistricting conversations to occur.
“Those considerations are considered as we look at the entire K-12 organization and enrollment patterns,” Wright said. “That does not mean, for any reason, that we are going to go any broader in our redistricting than we need to. But with each of these opportunities, we do take a global view across many areas to ensure that we are utilizing our buildings as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
As for enrollment projections, Sharon Jurawitz, of the OLSD Facilities Committee, said projections are down 2.4% for the 2020-21 school year. The district had projected 22,647 students between the district’s preschools up through the high schools. The actual enrollment total was 22,098 as of the first full day of school.
Enrollment is projected to grow to 22,744 next school year, and by the 2026-27 school year, OLSD is expecting to eclipse the 25,000-student mark between all of its schools with a projection of 25,262. As enrollment continues to climb with every passing school year, projections jump to 27,423 students by the 2030-31 school year.