Re-districting approved

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SOUTH POINT — There will be some new faces when Burlington Elementary School opens in August next year.

The South Point Board of Education approved at a Monday night board meeting to shift 150 students to the new elementary being built in Burlington from what would have been their home school of South Point.

Since September the school board has weighed two options as far as meeting enrollment criteria set out by the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which is overseeing and providing funding for the new elementary schools being built in the district. The commission requires a minimum enrollment of 350 in a school.

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Right now there are 254 students at Burlington and 617 at South Point Elementary.

The board was considering either re-alignment where one building would house grades K-2 and the other would be for 3-5 grades or redistricting, where students now attending South Point would be bused to Burlington.

“We are going to re-districting,” Mary Cogan, board member, said. “That will involve changing the bus route around so some people on the outside of the village will go to Burlington. It is easier. Some people (think we should) split the village right down the center. It is easier to go by bus route. You know how many kids are on that bus route.”

John Sherman was the only member of the four who attended Monday night’s meeting to vote against redistricting. Board member Randy Keffer is recovering from surgery. Keffer was for redistricting. Originally, board president Dale West was leaning toward re-alignment, but decided to go for re-districting.

“I didn’t see any downside to having the kids in school together all the way from K-12. I also liked having the teachers in the same building,” West said. However, after discussing the matter with Keffer, he decided to vote for redistricting to avoid a split decision.

“I know either way will work,” West said this morning. “I promised we would have a decision in November. If I would have voted the other way, it would have been 2-2. I wanted to move forward.”

Four years ago, South Point voters finally passed a levy and bond issue to replace all school buildings. That was the fourth time the district had approached voters to replace the aging structures.

Before Monday’s decision, the board had two town forums to solicit community reaction.

At one of those meetings parents were told the disparity in enrollment came from open enrollment that has allowed 130 Burlington students to attend Chesapeake schools, school superintendent Ken Cook said at that time.

Cogan said that by going with redistricting there will be fewer students affected by the transition compared with moving all students to a new building for third grade.

“Third grade is the first grade for the Ohio Achievement Test. I think it would have hurt the children academically who have moved to the new building when they have a big transition, new teachers, new faces,” she said. “The transition between second and third grade would be a lot rougher. I can’t see the educational benefits.

“Either decision you would have the same kind of issues. No matter which way it is a win-win. The children have new schools, new technology and we have the same great teachers. We need to make a go of it. Let’s get behind this.”