The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 29, 2013

Joplin district prepares for realignment of schools

JOPLIN, Mo. — With the recent adoption of a plan that changes which schools many elementary and middle school students will attend in the fall, Joplin administrators now look to make the necessary staffing and busing shifts.

Under the plan, about 200 current elementary students at Jefferson, Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Royal Heights will be rezoned to different elementary schools. Students at Cecil Floyd, Royal Heights, Kelsey Norman and Emerson schools will be redirected to different middle schools.

Superintendent C.J. Huff said administrators are beginning to plan for staffing changes among the schools and are refiguring middle school schedules. He said the district is planning to help students, particularly at the middle school level, make the transition into their new schools by offering tours, inviting them to meet their new teachers, and giving them opportunities to get together with their new classmates.

Bus routes will be redrawn this summer to accommodate the changes brought about by the plan. In addition, busing will be provided at the middle school level for two years for this year’s fifth-graders who have a sibling already attending their current middle school and who choose to also attend that school.

Huff said the extra busing will likely increase the district’s transportation budget, but by how much is unclear. He said it won’t be a significant amount and will be based primarily on the families who choose to keep their student at their current middle school.

“We really won’t know the impact on transportation costs until we know how many parents plan to take advantage of that,” he said. “It won’t be a big number. We’re not talking hundreds of students here — we’re talking a handful.”

Administrators are beginning to contact affected families by letter and phone to determine which school their students will attend next year, Huff said. Affected students in kindergarten through fourth grade also will have the option of remaining in their current schools, although transportation will not be provided by the district.

Huff said the district will also begin to merge students at Irving and Emerson schools to prepare for their transition into the new Irving school, which is under construction on McClelland Boulevard and is projected to be completed in December. Irving students currently attend classes at the Washington Education Center, while Emerson students are in the former Duquesne school.

Huff said Irving and Emerson students will be split between the two campuses beginning in August, with students in kindergarten through second grade attending classes at one of the sites and students in third through fifth grades at the other. The objective, he said, is to keep students with their classmates and teachers while facing a change of buildings halfway through the school year.

“Then all they have to do is change classrooms and not have to get used to a new teacher or make new friends,” he said.

Students at Duenweg and Duquesne schools have already largely been merged, as they currently attend the same school in Duenweg. They will attend the new Soaring Heights school on East 20th Street, also projected to be completed in December.

Timeline

The plan to redistrict Joplin schools was approved last week by the Board of Education and will take effect in August.

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