Changes to school attendance boundaries are inevitable for the Millard Public Schools to cope with lopsided enrollment growth, officials say.
The changes in Nebraska's third-largest district would not happen for the coming school year.
However, district officials could start holding community meetings next fall to discuss proposed changes.
Officials said they need to respond quickly to the enrollment trends outlined in a report presented Tuesday night to the Millard school board.
The report forecasts continued rising enrollment in the southwestern and western parts of the district but generally flat and spotty growth in the eastern reaches.
The rise of new housing subdivisions will push some schools over capacity, requiring the district to redraw boundary lines to assign some neighborhoods to different schools.
The greatest enrollment increases over the next five years are forecast at the middle and high schools, according to the report by an Overland Park, Kan., consultant.
“Changing high school boundaries is going to be extremely difficult,” Millard Superintendent Keith Lutz said.
A key challenge will be how to deal with rising enrollment at Millard West High School, which is quickly outpacing capacity, the report by RSP Associates said.
District officials said they may have to consider shifting boundary lines to assign some neighborhoods now feeding Millard West to Millard South. Millard North is at capacity.
The capacity of each Millard high school is 2,400, the report says. More than 3,000 students are projected to live in the Millard West attendance area next school year, compared with 1,665 in the Millard South area. Actual enrollment varies based on factors such as transfers.
Lutz said “there's no way” that Millard West can handle the projected increases over time.
Several board members said the district should continue its commitment to neighborhood schools and avoid splitting neighborhoods between schools.
But they said the primary goal of any changes would be to make sure the district is using all its buildings efficiently.
Board member Linda Poole said she wants to make the most of its buildings. “At the same time, I want to keep neighborhoods together.”
Poole said changes should be made in a comprehensive way so that they can serve the district into the future.
Overall, district enrollment is forecast to increase by 955 students to 23,384 over the next five years.
Elementary enrollment is expected to decrease by nearly 200 students by the 2017-18 school year. Middle school enrollment is forecast to increase by 375 and high school enrollment to rise by 761.
There is adequate elementary school capacity across the district, but specific schools have capacity problems, including Reagan and Upchurch Elementaries, the report said.
Likewise, middle schools have adequate capacity districtwide, but Anderson and Beadle Middle Schools pose a challenge, it said.
Boundary changes would be needed, officials said, despite classroom additions approved in the recent bond issue.
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