Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Where the students are

As the board thinks about possible changes to elementary attendance zones to prepare for the opening of new schools and to accommodate projected enrollment growth, it’s helpful to be able to visualize where the students are. For that reason, I frequently refer to the Student Density Map that the district made in 2014. Now the administration has provided us with updated maps that give us additional information about just how many students live in which areas.

Another way to get a sense of where the students are is to see how many elementary students live within a mile of each school. To me, this was one of the most striking aspects of the updated information that we received. Here is the data in descending order:

This chart reinforces my belief that closing Hoover Elementary would be a mistake. Yes, there are several elementary schools that serve the central east side, and many students who live within a mile of Hoover are in another school’s attendance area. But the fact remains that more students live within a mile of Hoover than almost any other school in the entire district, and Hoover’s number is significantly higher than that of any of the schools adjacent to it. That means that it would be easy to draw an attendance zone that would fill the school without any busing—one that would be not just technically “walkable” but actually walkable. It also means that the closure affects a particularly large number of people. It just doesn’t make sense to close a school that is surrounded by kids and then send them all to more distant schools in less densely populated areas.

It’s also worth noting that when the district recently asked for neighborhood input on elementary school preferences, more people signed preference forms identifying Hoover as their first choice than did so for any other school, by a significant margin—even though Hoover was not listed as an option on the form. It’s certainly possible to read too much into those forms; there were a lot of factors that drove participation more in some areas than others. Hoover residents may have been particularly likely to participate because of the planned closure, but Hoover received more signatures (343) than other schools in areas that will also necessarily be subject to boundary changes, such as Grant (221) and Hoover East (33). At the very least, it’s another indicator of just how many people are affected by the closure and how strongly they feel about keeping Hoover open.

In any event, the chart and the underlying maps are worth a close look. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Sara Barron said...

Does this data provide an argument for closing any of the other schools?

Anonymous said...

I would agree that a very poor decision has been made to close old Hoover and build Hoover East. Old Hoover should have remained open primarily since it is in a central location to many students (along with other reasons). It seems like this decision has already been made though and Hoover East is already in the works and the capacity will no longer be needed at old Hoover. I am sure there are many things going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of - I guess that is why Mr. Murley and the other admin at iccsd are making the big bucks...

Anonymous said...

Chris - in your Hoover number, how many of those kids actually attend Regina or are a closer walkable distance to another school? Also, of the Hoover number, how many will remain within a walkable distance to another school when it's closed?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, gotta wonder how many students would live closer to Hoover, Hills, Mann, and Lincoln if the school district didn't drive families away by threatening to close schools.

Also, the district appears to be building big schools to drive development & pull families away from some of the in town schools.

Chris said...

Anonymous (9:10) -- No private school students are included in that number. Since the district has not yet been able to create a "closest school" map, it's impossible to know how many students in that number are closer to another school--though, again, the fact that other surrounding schools have *fewer* students within one mile is an indicator in that regard. As for how many are a walkable distance to another school, again, it's hard to calculate the exact figure, but it's true that almost all students in the current Hoover zone would be within two miles (the technical definition of "walkable") from another school if Hoover closed. (There is a small part of Tamarack Trail--about twelve houses--that would not be.) But again, a relatively large number of students would be moved from a school that is close by to one that is farther away and in a less densely populated area.

Anonymous said...

If only we had 3 more board members that had more common sense at the time the original FMP was approved. Then we would certainly be building a school where it is actually needed right now instead of building New Hoover and closing old Hoover.

EDJ said...

Chris, I think you're making more than is there wrt the comparison of number of students within a mile of Hoover and within a mile of surrounding schools. Hoover is in the interior of a group of schools with common borders and thus has a greater amount of densely settled overlap with other schools' 1-mile zones. If anything, it seems like this would indicate that closing the school is unlikely to increase busing, though I'm not comfortable making that assumption based on these numbers either. The geographies and terrains that these schools actually serve have too many different variables for this data to be of much definitive help.

Anonymous said...

So help me try to figure out how the new discretionary busing plan came about and how it works. I have some information that I have pieced together from various sources but I am not sure if it is all accurate:

1. 1700 students have recently lost discretionary busing. Across the board if less than 2 miles from school no bus was the new rule.

2. 800 of those students less than 2 miles were given back discretionary bus due to low SES at Alexander, ???.

3. Another 200 of those students were given back discretionary busing due to low SES at Lucas, Kirkwood and Horn

4. Now down to 700 students who have lost discretionary busing from all other schools.

5. Pay to Ride will be offered, but with limited routes and availability and first come first serve - may not be available to all that want it

6. Pay to Ride will be free to Free Lunch students and discounted for reduced lunch. Previous year 86% of Pay to Ride was Free Lunch students who did not pay for this service.

7. Pay to Ride will operate at a considerable loss - estimate???

I guess I don't really get what is going on here but something doesn't seem right. Is there something that I am not understanding about this situation? Does anyone know how much the iccsd loses (if any?) when a student open enrolls into another school district because it seems like those numbers are rapidly increasing. If a parent has the ability to drive kids to and from school every day due to unsafe walkability or has to pay for a bus I can see where it might just make sense to open enroll into a neighboring school district and set up some car pooling with neighbors or go the private school route. Any thoughts or additional information I may be missing here?

Local for Life said...

The previous board closed the wrong school. It should be Lincoln that is closing. It's on the tiny piece of land, it is super old and most of the kids are bused there. Keep Hoover open, close Lincoln and build Grant. Put north Lincoln kids in Grant and the southern Lincoln kids into Mann or Shimek.

Anonymous said...

The Lincoln community will vote. If the board closes Lincoln southern Lincoln families may move north.

Matt Townsley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.