Public still giving input on Platte County R-3 proposed boundary adjustments

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Ryan McKay (rear), senior planner with RSP Associates, looks over a draft of a Platte County R-3 School District boundary map for elementary attendance centers during a public forum held Thursday, Nov. 19 at Wilson Center for Performing Arts at Platte County High School. School district patrons are encouraged to submit feedback through its website with the board of education scheduled to make a final decision in December. A few dozen patrons showed up to take a look at Platte County R-3’s draft of a boundary line Wednesday, Nov. 18, and the district wants even more feedback.

Many of the questions at the public forum ended up revolving around bus times for students in the Ferrelview, Mo. area. The boundary line committee already met twice to offer a solution of how to divide the district into three attendance centers for its elementary schools, set to increase from two to three for the upcoming school year.

Much of the focus centered on how to adjust Platte City’s attendance center for two elementary schools in the same general area — Siegrist Elementary and the under-construction Compass Elementary. In the committee’s first meeting, the 19 members were divided into groups and asked to take an initial look at the situation. The second meeting added context with demographic numbers and the group conversation evolved to produce the draft shown to the public on Tuesday.

The maps and online comment forms are now available on the district’s website as well.

“This is a messy process,” Platte County superintendent Dr. Mike Reik said. “It is usually not easy, and I can say that to this point that is true. However, we have some draft scenarios to share with you, and we need your feedback.”

The current draft does split Platte City through a north-south line but doesn’t run directly along Fourth Street as originally planned, rather Interstate 29 is used as the main border on the east side. The west portion, which includes the Seven Bridges subdivision, would send students to Compass, while the east side, which includes Lakes at Oakmont and surrounding subdivisions, would be part of Siegriest Elementary.

In addition, the current version moves the southern boundary line from 128th Street to Interstate 435. This means that students in Ferrelview and immediately north of I-435 would be attending Siegrist Elementary instead of Pathfinder Elementary in the southern portion of the district.

The district hired RSP Associates to create enrollment projections and generate workable scenarios from committee and now public feedback.

The committee — made up of community members, including two district staff members — used framework from the board of education’s established community values and prioritized criteria for the boundary process to make the first draft. Committee members include Tammy Kephart, Tammy Collins-Thompson, Amie Elliott, Jennifer Wilson, Cassie Linn, Cory Hall, Chris Thomas, Mary Dixon, Aaron Jung, Buffy Smith, James Everett, Jeanne Modin, Joanna Stusse, Alan Lambert, Sarah Rudis, Justin Tyler, Joshua Nickell, Doc Beeman and Tyler Crawford.

The committee will meet again on Thursday, Dec. 10, and more times if necessary, before delivering a final recommendation to the Platte County Board of Education at its Thursday, Dec. 17 regular meeting, and members will have final say on the boundary adopted.

Reik envisions that small changes between the public forum and recommendation will occur.

“Of course, we’re going to talk about next steps and not just coming from the presentation and what we do here,” said Ryan McKay, senior planner with RSP. “But where do we go from here? How do we take it from where we are, the feedback you are going to give us, to the board of education later on in December.”

There were 10 criteria points the district established to guide the committee, but four were chosen as top priority: keeping neighborhoods intact, factoring in projected growth, contiguous attendance areas and duration of boundaries (listed in order of importance, per the board). Those were used to try and create equitable attendance centers in terms of demographics and educational experience.

Grandfathering and exception clauses will be made at the discretion of school administration.

The attendance centers will also affect the districts two middle schools — Platte City in the north and Barry in the south. The two kindergarten through fifth grade Platte City elementaries will continue to feed exclusively into Platte City Middle School while Pathfinder — transitioning to kindergarten through fourth grade — will continue to flow to Barry School. Keeping that complete feeder system intact was also considered in making the current draft and will factor in the final decision.

Current projections show the effect will likely push Pathfinder Elementary past its functional capacity in the next four to five years, but the district remains aware of that issue and has that included in its growth management master plan as it makes future building decisions. In addition, Barry School will see immediate growth but will level out with Platte City Middle School in the next four to five years, according to RSP projections.

“The bottom line is that you continue to grow,” said Diane DeBacker, an educational consultant working with RSP, “and you have to have places in order to put those children and put those students.”