SUNBURY — Some Big Walnut students may have to go to a different elementary school during the 2020-2021 school year after the district’s Board of Education approved redistricting boundaries at its Dec. 12. meeting.
“We would like to thank our Redistricting Committee for their time and valuable input,” states the district’s website. “Thank you to our community for attending the forum, completing the survey, and for helping to make this process go so smoothly.”
The services of Cropper GIS Consulting, LLC were used in the redistricting. They have worked with Big Walnut Local Schools in the past, as well as Westerville City Schools, and districts in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
Big Walnut’s four elementary schools are currently at 99% capacity (1,555 students), Cropper reported in a PowerPoint presentation in September, with General Rosecrans currently over capacity at 539 kindergarten-to-fourth grade students. Big Walnut Elementary has 398 preschool-to-fourth grade students; Hylen Souders has 361; and Harrison Street has 258.
A new 500-seat K-4 elementary, Prairie Run, is currently being built in Sunbury, and it will open in the fall of 2020. At the same time, Harrison Street will become the district’s preschool.
On the same site as Prairie Run, a new high school for grades 9-12 is starting construction. It is expected to open in fall 2022. At that time, the current Big Walnut High School building would become the middle school for grades 7-8; the current Big Walnut Middle School building would become the intermediate school for grades 5-6. Finally, the current Big Walnut Intermediate building would become an elementary for grades K-4 in fall 2023.
The approved zones took the following criteria into account:
• Use natural boundaries if possible
• Avoid splitting neighborhoods or subdivisions, and try to draw lines along major roads if possible
• Move as few students as possible for 2020 and 2023
• Balance building utilization, but also be mindful of future residential growth
The public was surveyed in October, and Cropper’s recommendations were presented to the school board in November.
In phase 1 of redistricting, being the 2020-2021 school year, there were two options. The district chose option 2, which impacts 506 students. The estimated enrollment for 2020-2021 would be: BWE 326; GRE 358; Souders 351; Prairie Run 454; and a total of 1,489 K-4 students.
The district also has a draft plan for the 2023-2024 school year, but it has not been approved by the board.
“This plan will remain in draft form until we get closer to the date when the current Intermediate building becomes an elementary,” the district website states.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.