Olentangy Local Schools’ redistricting changes for the 2016-17 school year were described as “difficult” but necessary during a school board meeting on Thursday.
Superintendent Mark Raiff on Wednesday announced the changes, which will affect 572 students, or about 3 percent of the district’s enrollment. The students needed to be moved due to overcrowding at Cheshire and Olentangy Meadows elementary schools and Shanahan Middle School.
“We know how difficult this is,” Raiff said. “I know how difficult this is personally , but I have great confidence we’ll make the transition successfully.” Raiff’s daughter has gone to seven different schools due to redistricting.
The superintendent is responsible for the redistricting decision; the board did not take action other than approving a resolution proposing redistricting guidelines.
“I want to acknowledge that these changes for some are difficult, but there was overcrowding that needed to be addressed,” said board President Kevin O’Brien. “We now shift our focus to support the transition.”
An “attendance boundary” committee has spent six months looking at redistricting. Nearly 400 residents attended a community forum in November, and more than 1,100 in-person or online surveys were completed. During the forum, four options were presented. Option A would have moved 752 students; Option B would have moved 820 students; Option C would have moved 652 students; and Option D would have moved 992 students.
“There are three realities of redistricting,” said committee chair Mark Iannotta. “Not every student can go to the school closest to them — if that were the case, then Orange Middle School would have 2,151 students, just a little above its capacity. Despite the best efforts, there is no perfect plan. As a result, the final plan will upset somebody, and I’m sure it has. I would just stress to them that many other students have been redistricted over the years and they survived. The district will do everything in its power to simplify and make the process easier for them.”
Iannota, O’Brien and Raiff thanked all who took part in the process, and Raiff thanked the board for its support.
The meeting was the board’s last one of the year.
At its previous meeting, on Nov. 24, four of the five board members voted to put a levy issue on the March 15, 2016, ballot. The combined levy includes a 5.9-mill operating levy for ongoing expenses; a 1-mill permanent improvement levy to maintain district facilities and property; and a $79.6 million bond issue to build the district’s fourth high school, purchase the Olentangy Academy, and roofing expenses. If approved, the levy would cost taxpayers an additional $241.50 a year per $100,000 of home valuation.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.