Hundreds of parents weighed in on four potential redistricting scenarios at a community forum Monday night at Olentangy Liberty High School.
A redistricting will be necessary at the elementary and middle school level in the 2016-17 school year, school officials say.
Cheshire Elementary School, Olentangy Meadows Elementary School and Shanahan Middle School are over capacity and are projected to continue to grow. Combined, they are 171 students over, and are expected to be 451 over in 2018-19.
However, Liberty Middle School and Hyatts Middle School are under-used, and projected to decline in enrollment. They are currently 251 students under, and would be 324 students under in 2018-19.
Kristin Baker, principal at Olentangy Meadows, said the overcrowding is so bad that tests have been given in a janitor’s closet, and classes have been held in the library and the hallway.
Josh McDaniels, principal at Shanahan, said that because of the number of students, the middle school has to use a staggered schedule that takes away from instruction time.
“We’ve got to do something about this pretty quickly,” McDaniels said.
A sixth middle school is not planned. The district is making plans for a fourth high school.
During opening remarks, Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff said the huge turnout was one reason the district is special.
“I haven’t made a decision,” Raiff said. “I don’t look at kids as numbers. I will make this decision, but I don’t take it lightly.”
He said one of his daughters had to attend seven different schools in the district during a prior redistricting. Olentangy has long been the fastest-growing school district in Ohio, and is now the seventh-largest in the state.
“We do not have a bad school,” Raiff said. “We’ll still have the best district in the state of Ohio.”
Scott Leopold of DeJong-Richter, a company assisting the district’s attendance boundary committee, said projections indicate the district’s enrollment will peak in the year 2043 at 23,747 students and mature in 2070 with 19,994 students.
Raiff urged parents to “let the process work.” The sentiments were echoed by committee co-chair Mark Iannotta.
“There’s a lot of disinformation going around,” Iannotta said. “It is an emotional process. There is no perfect plan.”
Iannotta said that sending children to the school they live closest to won’t work, because it causes some schools to be over capacity, while other schools would be under-utilized.
Four scenarios were presented to the public. Leopold said there was no preferred plan.
Scenario A would move 752 students; Scenario B would move 820 students; Scenario C would move 652 students; and Scenario D would move 992 students.
The packed house, seated at lunch tables, were given copies of the scenarios with pros and cons listed for each. They were asked to fill out a questionnaire that would help the committee in recommending an option to the superintendent, who is expected to announce his decision at the Dec. 10 school board meeting.
Raiff and Iannotta said the purpose of the forum was to get feedback from the public and look at other possible options.
“We will read all the comments,” Iannotta said.
The committee, which has met since June, will go over the tabulated results on Dec. 1.
The four scenarios and the community forum presentation can be accessed at http://www.olentangy.k12.oh.us/Page/1777
For those who didn’t attend the forum, the questionnaire can be completed online by midnight Nov. 25 at http://www.olentangy.k12.oh.us/Page/1776
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.