After a recession-induced lull, the Mansfield school district is dealing with schools busting at the seams again.
At last week’s school board meeting, trustees learned about ways the district staff plans to handle a population surge on the east side of the district from elementary through high schools. The results will have some students changing schools temporarily, while others will be moving on a permanent basis.
Last spring, the school board delayed rezoning of the Lake Parks subdivision from Lake Ridge High School to Timberview High for a year to give students and parents time to file transfer applications. They also voted to allow all students who have already started at Lake Ridge to graduate from that school instead of transferring.
The new zoning goes into effect August 2015, so students in the Lake Parks subdivision who have not filed for a transfer by April 1, will be heading to Timberview next fall. The area includes 136 students, 30 of whom are currently seniors, said David Wright, director of campus support.
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The move is the result of overcrowding at Lake Ridge, which currently has 2,100 students, compared to Timberview, which has 1,600. The district’s high schools are designed to hold 2,400 students.
Elementary schools on the east side are also bustling, with Elizabeth Smith and Cora Spencer elementaries already overcapacity and more on the way, according to demographers. Elizabeth Smith is scheduled to have 801 students by this fall, while Cora Spencer will have 825. Elementary schools are designed to hold 800 students.
Board had considered opening Judy Miller Elementary earlier than planned to deal with the growth, but changed their minds after hearing from parents. Judy Miller Elementary, which housed J.L. Boren Elementary students while their new school was under construction and is currently the home of Glenn Harmon Elementary students whose school is being rebuilt, has yet to open as its own campus.
The district, which planned to move Charlotte Anderson Elementary students into Judy Miller Elementary after the new Glenn Harmon campus is completed in fall 2017, briefly considered dividing the Charlotte Anderson Elementary students into two different campuses instead and opening Judy Miller Elementary as its own campus.
After outcry from Charlotte Anderson Elementary parents, district staff advised the board to begin hiring staff for Judy Miller Elementary and installing them at the campus, where they will teach overflow classes from Elizabeth Smith and Cora Spencer elementaries, starting this fall. Glenn Harmon Elementary students also will have classes at the Judy Miller campus until their new school is completed in August 2016. Charlotte Anderson Elementary students will then move into the Judy Miller campus, where they will hold classes until fall 2017. Judy Miller Elementary will then open as its own school.
“Anderson parents asked us to find creative solutions so we wouldn’t have to split the school,” said Associate Superintendent . Darrell Sneed. “We think keeping kids together is the best option.”
Trustee Beth Light said she still wants as few students from Elizabeth Smith and Cora Spencer elementaries moved as possible.
“I hope you are going to target the students who will go to Miller so they don’t have to move several times,” she said. “I don’t know how you would decide. I would rather put portables at Miller than move kids around a lot. I don’t like portables, but I don’t like to move kids around a lot, especially elementary kids.”
Trustee Courtney Lackey Wilson said growing pains are to be expected.
“If you live in a newer area with undeveloped land, you have to expect this,” she said. “We’ve all been through this.”
The growing pains aren’t over yet, demographers say. The district is set to add 3,147 students in the next five years and an additional 5,270 students the following five years.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451