With the W.B. Wicker School project under construction and on schedule for its projected opening in August, the Lee County Board of Education will spend the next two months making decisions about where elementary students will attend school for the 2019-2020 year.
The board’s Facilities and Technology Committee has already met twice to set criteria for how elementary redistricting will be done – the primary issues are maintaining neighborhood integrity, efficiency of transportation and the levels of overpopulation in the district’s existing elementary schools – and commit to a calendar. A Jan. 7 meeting of the committee is set to lay out procedures for the lottery which will determine the 200-some students who will attend Wicker by choice (the remaining 700-plus will attend the school based on the redistricting).
“The three most impacted schools will be B.T. Bullock, J.R. Ingram and J. Glenn Edwards,” school board Chairman Patrick Kelly told the Rant. “But with that being said, there may be some minor tweaking necessary to the other districts.”
Because Wicker’s capacity to hold nearly 1,000 students makes it essentially “a school and a half,” Lee County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan said the levels of overpopulation at the three schools Kelly mentioned, as well as the geography of those schools, means they’re natural choices to focus on in the redistricting process.
“We have 30-plus mobile units at our elementary schools, and our main goal is to put as many students as possible in brick and mortar buildings,” Bryan said. “The focus needs to be on those three schools, so that we can take off some of the pressure that’s on them.”
The board will vote on its redistricting proposal at a regular meeting on Feb. 12, and notification letters about new school assignments will be sent on Feb. 19 (you can view the current map here), but interested parents can attend meetings of the Facilities and Technology Committee on Jan. 17 and the full board on Jan. 22 at which they can see the proposed maps, and a letter to parents about the timeline for action on redistricting will be sent on Jan. 24. Further, public hearings are scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 5.
“We’re having two public hearings because we want to be transparent to the public and have as much input as we can from them,” Kelly said.
As for the lottery portion for students who attend the Wicker school by choice, Bryan said “intent to enroll” paperwork will be made available on the district’s website, and the open-to-the-public random lottery will be held at a date to be determined at the Facilities and Technology Committee’s Jan. 7 meeting.