The Shawnee Mission school board on Monday night unanimously approved new attendance boundaries for Briarwood Elementary in Prairie Village.
Why it matters: The new boundaries, which are set to take effect in the 2025-26 school year, are aimed at alleviating overcrowding at the school near 86th Street and Nall Avenue.
- Still, some impacted parents have pushed back and, one has filed a lawsuit challenging the district’s boundary change process.
The upshot: With the new map approved Monday, Briarwood’s projected 2025-26 enrollment will decrease to 501 students from the projected 670 students if no changes were made.
- It also increases neighboring Tomahawk Elementary’s enrollment from 424 students in the 2025-26 year — compared to the 252 students who would have been projected to attend the school without a boundary change.
The details: Here’s a map of the new attendance zone approved Monday night, with the new Briarwood boundaries in green.
Backstory: Monday’s vote came after months of study from a special boundary change group made up of administrators, teachers and parents.
- The group hosted two public input sessions, but also did much of its work behind closed doors, irking some parents.
- Meanwhile, some parents in the Beverly Hills & Estates and Prairie Ridge neighborhoods expressed their concerns about those concepts, centered around worries that the new maps would make it harder for their children to walk or bike to their new school.
- The district publicly discussed two other boundary change concepts prior to landing on the one recommended Monday night.
Key quote: “We heard a lot from across both communities, and as you will hear in my recommendation, some of that challenged our thinking and will show up in my recommendation,” Superintendent Michelle Hubbard said. “Please know it is impossible to accommodate all input.”
Going deeper: Impacted Briarwood families who want can begin applying to transfer to Tomahawk as soon as next August, according to board documents.
- Meanwhile, children who will begin sixth grade in August 2025, along with their younger siblings, are eligible to remain at Briarwood but with no district transportation provided, according to the recommendation in board documents.
Parent input: A few parents, including, Glen Mills, thanked the boundary work group for their efforts, and for hearing out his and his neighbors’ concerns.
- Mills said the work group listened to their concerns about transparency early on, and the group used some of the data he and others took to them.
- Others, like Joe Pacey, said he appreciated the district’s recognition of the toll the process could take on families who have children of different ages who may be impacted differently by the boundary change.
Briarwood boundary change lawsuit
Matt Moeder, a Briarwood parent, filed a lawsuit against the district last week seeking an injunction to stop the district from implementing the new school boundaries for now.
- In the suit, Moeder contends the district violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by having most of the boundary work group’s meetings behind closed doors.
- The suit, in addition to seeking to enjoin the Briarwood boundary changes, also seeks a ruling ordering the district to stop appointing working groups in the future that do not meet publicly.
- David Smith, the district’s chief communications officer, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday night.
Another thing: On Monday, Hubbard also recommended the board consider gauging the public’s interest in eventually changing Tomahawk’s school name.
- Hubbard said some community members have expressed concerns that the current name is disrespectful to Native American communities.