Dozens of parents concerned about redrawing attendance boundaries to address overcrowding at Briarwood and other Shawnee Mission elementaries packed Monday’s board of education meeting and peppered superintendent Jim Hinson with questions after it recessed.
SMSD Superintendent Jim Hinson on the process for changing attendance boundaries
Hinson addressed the issue of boundary redrawing in his superintendent’s report — though he never mentioned the names of any schools — and noted that he and district administrators were taking a close look at the impact any boundary shifts would have and “trying to figure out the least possible impact on families.”
“However,” he said, “there will be an impact on families. You simply cannot reduce a portion of the student population and not impact lives.”
Hinson noted that he was determined to make the boundary changes needed to address overcrowding in a way that would impact the elementary level only — that there would be no impact on middle and high school attendance patterns.
Two Briarwood parents, Emily Phillips and Dave Root, voiced the concerns of many parents with houses in the Prairie Ridge homes area between 75th and 79th Streets from Nall Avenue to Delmar, which the district has discussed shifting to the Tomahawk Elementary feeder pattern, according to those familiar with discussions of the area’s site council.
Phillips told Hinson she and her family had been active contributors to the Briarwood community with their time and money, and that the prospect of seeing her first-grade son Nash transferred elsewhere was unacceptable.
“I grew up in Prairie Village, and I attended Briarwood,” she said. “My family moved to this area and purchased our home on the same block that my mother grew up on for the specific reason to provide our children with an excellent education at Briarwood. My family has owned property here, worked here, paid taxes here and voted here since the 1950s. And we will not accept this proposal.”
Hinson said Monday that he anticipated the district would have a final decision on the boundary shift within the next couple weeks, and that the district was weighing a number of variables in the decision, including the impact of a boundary shift of the schools that would be receiving new students, and the impact of any special programs students on the overall school populations.
He noted that he would be revisiting the site councils — the small advisory groups that include parents, district administrators and elected officials for each school — in the coming days to further discuss the options.
Early Tuesday morning, Phillips sent the following note to district administrators and state legislators:
At the April 28th school board meeting, the residents of Prairie Ridge were finally engaged in the process of student redestricting in our neighborhood. In no uncertain terms, we informed the Superintendent and the School Board that the residents of Prairie Ridge will not accept any proposal that removes our children from Briarwood School.
While we regret not receiving the opportunity to engage in dialogue with decision makers sooner, it’s clear no conclusions have been drawn by Dr. [Hinson] and the School Board. Though our questions remain unanswered, we appreciate the support of the PTA, site council, and school administration in continuing dialogue to resolve this issue.