By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Members of the Joplin Board of Education will get their first public look today at the school district’s plan for redrawing its attendance zones, which determine where elementary and middle school students attend based on their addresses.
“One of the things that, obviously, post-storm we’ve had to take a look at is the balance in our elementary schools,” Superintendent C.J. Huff said. “The balance has shifted dramatically.”
Huff said redrawing attendance zone boundaries was “inevitable” after the May 2011 tornado, which damaged or destroyed eight schools and thousands of homes across the center of the city. He said the school district’s objective in redistricting is to spread out the student population among the elementary schools in accordance with where Joplin families are living after the tornado.
“It’s not an option not to redistrict at this point in order to balance class sizes and elementary schools across the district,” he said.
Huff said that balance will be needed in December, when some of the district’s newest schools are scheduled to open. Students from the destroyed Emerson and Irving elementary schools will be combined in a new school being built on the southern end of the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center property on McClelland Boulevard.
Irving currently feeds into South Middle School, along with Cecil Floyd and Stapleton, the district’s two largest elementary schools. Emerson currently joins Columbia, Jefferson, Royal Heights and West Central schools to feed into North Middle School.
An elementary school being built alongside East Middle School on East 20th Street will house students from Duenweg and Duquesne elementary schools. Both schools, along with Eastmorland, McKinley and Kelsey Norman schools, feed into the middle school.
Huff said some elementary schools will see only a minimal impact from the redrawn boundaries, while others likely won’t be affected at all. The board also will consider a grandfather clause that could allow families under certain circumstances to remain with their pre-tornado school, he said.
“We’ve really taken a close look at the attendance zones and tried to minimize the impact on families,” he said.
In other business today, the board will:
• Revisit the Standards of Excellence, five broad objectives that are being used as a guide in creating specific improvement strategies during a long-term planning and review procedure.
• Consider an $8.7 million bid from P1 Group, which has a Joplin branch, for electrical work at Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center.
• Conduct a closed meeting for legal and real estate matters and personnel issues.
THE JOPLIN BOARD OF EDUCATION will meet at 1 p.m. today at the administration building, 3901 E. 32nd St.