The Edmond Sun
More than 100 parents came to the Edmond Public School district’s question-and-answer session Thursday to discuss redistricting for the new elementary school, Frontier, that will open in the fall on North Pennsylvania Avenue just south of Covell Road.
As parents submitted cards with their concerns written, district administrators answered them and then a time was given for follow-up questions at the end.
Frontier Elementary School is being built because of the tremendous number of students coming to the district in the past five years, said Superintendent David Goin.
“In the past five years we have had 2,700 students new to the district and since September we have added 80 additional students,” Goin said.
Associate Superintendent of General Administration Bret Towne said the surrounding-area schools are full and some still have the potential to grow.
“In order to add more students to a school there must be a potential to add on to a school by having land available or to build a new school,” Towne said.
The three elementary schools that will be impacted by redistricting this year include John Ross with 983 students, Washington Irving with 854 students and West Field with 954 students.
“There are unique things about every school,” Towne said. “John Ross has a large special needs program. They all have their own personality. We understand it is difficult to move, but we try to make the best decision we can.”
Even though John Ross has room to grow, at this time there are seven portable buildings on the site. There are already two large apartment complexes in the area, and there is a 180-acre plat for new homes, Towne said.
West Field opened seven years ago and is one of the largest elementaries in the district and still has room to grow. There are 80 acres of undeveloped property and more than 300 homes not yet built in Valencia.
Of the three schools, Washington Irving, built in 1991, is the oldest and is limited in design for an add-on. At this time kindergarten classes are being added.
“This will be the third realignment for that school,” Towne said. There is a recently completed apartment complex just adjacent to and south of Washington Irving, and Rush Brook, with 445 platted lots, is under construction.
Frontier is planned to open its doors with 450 students attending Pre-K through fifth grade, Towne said, reducing John Ross by 127 students, West Field by 198 students and Washington Irving by 106 students.
Frontier has room to grow in student population with 400 acres to be developed, Towne said, although some homes are on 20-acre estates. There is a possibility 700 additional homes could be added to the area.
Lynne Rowley, director of elementary education, assured parents there would be a Before and After Care program for Frontier Elementary students with no waiting list.
Pre-K students will go through an application process, and Rowley said there will be a lottery for the spaces if there are more applications than space available.
Plans at this time are for class sizes to remain the same and the school curriculum will be the same that is used throughout the district.
Staffing will be from the three existing schools first and when the principal is announced he or she will interview and hire the remaining staff members.
At this time every neighborhood will have bus service.
“Students in the elementary schools must provide their own transportation if they live within a mile of the school,” Towne said. “They must have safe passages including stop lights and cross walks, and at this time that is not the case.”
Towne added the way the school is designed, Pre-K through second-grade will be on one side and third- through fifth-grade will be on the other side.
“It will be a large school that feels small,” Towne said. “After some point we will have a diminishing number of students.”
Towne said that there will be two entrances with more than 200 parking spaces with three pick up areas able to accommodate more than 100 cars in line.
With the rate the district is growing, new schools will be a part of the growth, Goin said.
Rowley told the parents they will honor a transfer to the school the student is in currently, but for siblings it will depend on space.
“We are aware of some unique situations, but we will work with the individual families,” Rowley said. She added there will not be a special needs program available at Frontier.
Fifth-graders will matriculate to schools in their feeder pattern. Plans call for a new middle school to eventually be built across the street from Frontier Elementary, which was one of the items on the Feb. 12 $80 million bond issue approved by Edmond voters.
Goin told parents students entering Frontier this next year will most likely not be affected by an additional boundary realignment. Frontier will be a Late Start School, and for this coming year no outside transfers will be accepted.
Positives for attending the new school include the fact the school will be completely wireless when it opens and is starting with two playground areas and park areas will be provided.
“This school was master planned from Day One for larger spaces and for a whole school concept,” Towne said.