Roesland realignment puts Indian Hills PTA in tricky position

Many Indian Hills parents would prefer a smaller school — but would choose a combined Indian Hills and Mission Valley over an Indian Hills with reduced course offerings.

The Shawnee Mission School District board of education’s recent actions have put Indian Hills teachers and PTA members in a difficult situation: most would prefer not to see Mission Valley close, but they also don’t see another viable option for keeping programming at Indian Hills intact.

A group of Indian Hills teachers have sent a letter to the Board of Education encouraging them to ensure that the school remains large enough to support its current level of elective course offerings. The trouble for the Indian Hills community began Nov. 8, when the board voted to realign Roesland Elementary to the SM North middle schools.

Students who attended Roesland Elementary had been attending Indian Hills for middle school, and then SM North for high school. Roesland was the only elementary school feeding into Indian Hills that didn’t send students on to SM East. At the Nov. 8 meeting, though, the board of education voted to shift Roesland into the SM North feeder pattern for middle school as well, meaning none of the Roesland students will attend Indian Hills in the 2011-2012 school year.

Without the Roesland students feeding into Indian Hills, the Indian Hills population will be too small to support a number of full time electives teachers. As a result, fewer courses would be offered at the school.

The teachers and many PTA members agree that there are two ways to correct the situation: reassign Roesland to Indian Hills, or close Mission Valley and send those students up Mission Road.

Trouble is, many of the families with students at Roesland are happy to have been reassigned to the SM North middle schools, having felt like odd-men-out as the only Indian Hills students who didn’t go on to SM East. Which means closing Mission Valley looks like the only option.

“Most evidence shows kids do better in smaller schools,” said Indian Hills PTA co-president Dan Blom. “The other side of it is they do well when you can provide them the programming. My druthers would be you keep the schools small and you pay to make sure you have the programming. But that’s not realistic given the budget situation we’re facing.”

“I want them to make Indian Hills whole.”