Answers to Parent Questions

Frequently Asked Questions on our Proposed Elementary Boundary Adjustment

Based on input from community members in October 2018 as of 10-22-2018.

We appreciate all of the feedback on our proposed elementary school boundary adjustments that has been submitted so far. The community input process remains open through October 31.

Changing school boundaries is not a decision that is taken lightly and the school district only makes boundary changes when necessary. We began to anticipate the approaching need for an adjustment to elementary school boundaries two years ago. An assessment of elementary school capacities was conducted by Hollis+Miller Architects in February of 2017 and a professional demography study conducted by Business Information Services LLC was initiated in the summer of 2017. The results of the demography study were presented to the School Board in February of 2018. Based on the findings from both studies, and consultation with the City of Grain Valley officials on new housing developments in the planning stages or underway, a draft boundary adjustment proposal was crafted this fall. The proposed changes have been reviewed by a Steering Committee of citizen volunteers, the School Board, and the full community.

An input period for online feedback was set for October 18-31 and nearly 40 individuals have registered their input as of October 22. Our families have asked many great questions through this process. Most questions and ideas are captured below with a response from the district. Duplicates were not included and other than a few minor edits, the PARENT posts below appear as submitted through the feedback form located under the FOR FAMILIES tab at GrainValleySchools.org.


PARENT: I feel like the boundaries should stay the same until all children in the current schools are through, thus implementing the new boundary changes after the current elementary students are through the schools, or potentially giving the students being affected the opportunity to stay if their parents can provide transportation or if they are enrolled in valley kids.

DISTRICT: Allowing current students to remain would not give the desired relief needed at Prairie Branch and Matthews. Having all impacted students become car riders would overwhelm car rider processes at both schools for years.


PARENT: Please consider that Whitney Hills will be connected to Woodbury and provide easy busy route access and continuity.

DISTRICT: The road going in west of Whitney Hills will connect three existing neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it is not feasible for all three neighborhoods to attend the same elementary school. A dividing line between Matthews and Prairie Branch already exists along Woodbury Drive and would remain in place under the proposed changes.


PARENT: I have a child at Prairie Branch who has behavioral issues and attachment anxiety. She doesn’t adjust like other students do. A move like this is detrimental to her emotional and educational well being. I am sure that I am not the only parent who has a child that is unable to adjusted to situations such as these. Do you have any adjustments plans for students like my daughter?

DISTRICT: Our transition plan would include a school visit for all students at each school to visit their new school together during the school day. The new school would work to make these students feel welcome and more confident about the change. Each receiving school would also host an event for the whole family so you can experience the new school together. In addition, we are prepared to personalize a transition plan for any child who needs something extra. Each of our schools has experience with children who experience anxiety or have other challenges, but each child’s situation is unique and the staff will want to get to know your child and her needs yet this year to help with the transition.


PARENT: Have you done a census to count how many CHILDREN are going to actually be affected by this move? For me I only have one child in kindergarten but I have two who will be in Elementary next year. And we have other children in our neighborhood who’s families were not notified about the change and they will have children in kindergarten next year. Were children going in to kindergarten and families like mine who will have multiple children affected by this boundary change accounted for in each of the boundary zones? If not won’t this boundary change cause a possible overflow with this new influx of students?

DISTRICT: The proposed boundary adjustment does account for future projected students. Based on the results of a trusted professional demographer, which included an analysis of live births in our area, and an analysis of school capacities by our architecture firm, we are confident the proposed boundary adjustments will meet our needs until a new elementary school would be started in 6-10 years. By the time the next elementary school is open, we will definitely need the additional space.


PARENT: If you wait the six years to build an elementary school, how many other families like mine will AGAIN be shuffled around?

DISTRICT: Boundaries would need to be adjusted with the opening of any new school. With the projection of elementary #5 being 6-10 years away, no current elementary student would be impacted by that boundary adjustment, but some families could be impacted again.


PARENT: The way I understand it we are basically just flipping the percentages and as Sni-A-Bar and Stony Point will be at 91%. Why is that a better solution?

DISTRICT: Yes. 91% is a manageable capacity for a school with flat or declining enrollment. The enrollment at Sni-A-Bar and Stony Point have trended downward for the past six years. When all schools approach a capacity of 90%, then we would evaluate the need for elementary #5.


PARENT: Have they considered making additions on to the schools who are filling up instead of shuffling kids around? Would that work in lieu of this boundary change and new school?

DISTRICT: Our four elementary schools each have the desired maximum build-out for the land they sit on and for the desired size of an elementary school.


PARENT: Maybe this has been FULLY researched as the BEST possible solution. But there wasn’t any supportive information to suggest that that is the case. This is presented to me as a parent and resident of Grain Valley as nothing more than a band-aid, a temporary fix. It takes time to build a school, is it the best option for our kids, our future, to wait until it is already past maximum capacity. And even if this is the best fix, what considerations have been made for students like my daughter?

DISTRICT: We encourage you to review the slides from our community engagement session on October 17 at https://bit.ly/2yoD9pP where we included supporting details, such as the growth history and projections. We do not expect to adjust elementary boundaries again until elementary #5, which is projected to begin in 6-10 years. This proposed 2019 adjustment would be the fourth time elementary boundaries have been adjusted since 2004, when Prairie Branch opened. Other elementary adjustments were made in 2007 and 2013.


PARENT: Next year's 5th graders need to have the option to stay at their current schools. It would be less than a 5% difference in the school population, it would only have a one year impact before the goal attendance levels are reached and it would be at most around 20 more cars in the pick up /drop off lines for that year. This impacts not just the students being moved, but their peers as well.

This option is being considered. It would impact up to 16% of the students directly impacted by the proposed adjustments. Two down sides include increased car rider congestion at Matthews and Prairie Branch, and next year’s impacted 5th grade students who would choose to stay at Matthews would still attend South Middle School the following year, but without their Matthews classmates who live within the North Middle School boundary.


PARENT: We bought our house almost 13 years ago because our future kids would go to Matthews - not Sni-A-Bar or something else.

DISTRICT: We understand and you are not alone. One of the first questions homebuyers ask is where will my children attend school? Ours has been one of the two fastest growing school districts in Missouri in a generation and we have experienced 30+ years of consecutive growth, something no other district in the Kansas City Metro has experienced. We are committed to all of our schools being exceptional, so if families do face a boundary adjustment they could not have anticipated, then the alternative is another great school.


PARENT: I live right in between Matthews and Sni-A-Bar but now you're saying we have to go to the furthest school Stony Point. It would make sense for us to go to Sni-A-Bar. I don't want to drive past a school to take my son to school. Sni-A-Bar neighborhood needs to be split.

DISTRICT: If we were starting elementary boundaries from scratch then ideally no one would pass one school to attend another. As it stands, if more of the neighborhoods north of Sni-A-Bar went to Sni-A-Bar instead of Stony Point, then families from Sni-A-Bar would need to be moved to Stony Point. In our current proposal, we elected to not affect more families than needed to address the initial concern of capacity enrollment at Matthews and Prairie Branch.


PARENT: If there's a transition event and our son or ourselves do not get a good "vibe" from the new school - then what?

DISTRICT: We are committed to providing the best possible transition for each child. We would ask that you let us know if your child needs something extra and give us a chance to personalize the experience.


PARENT: At some point, development is going to have to stop because there's no room for more houses.

DISTRICT: Our demographer tells us this area has the potential for much more growth, but we should expect just modest gains in our elementary school population over the next ten years. Property owners develop their land when they choose and more land development has occurred in the northern half of the district for more than 15 years now. We do not control development, but we work with City planners and others to anticipate where development will occur next and then plan accordingly.


PARENT: If my son has to go to Sni-A-Bar - I would like to see parent surveys and actual test scores for that school.

DISTRICT: All of our schools have remarkable reputations and we cannot imagine that any of our families would choose to leave their current school. Here is Missouri’s Report Card on each school and family survey results on each elementary school are listed below:
https://apps.dese.mo.gov/MCDS/home.aspx?categoryid=14&view=2

Sni-A-Bar families survey results from 2017-2018:
This school has great teachers and staff = 94.3% agree
My child feels safe at school = 95.7% agree
I feel welcome when I visit my child’s school = 94.3% agree
My child’s school has a great school culture = 94.3% agree

Stony Point family survey results from 2017-2018:
This school has great teachers and staff = 97.7% agree
My child feels safe at school = 96.5% agree
I feel welcome when I visit my child’s school = 96.5% agree
My child’s school has a great school culture = 95.4% agree

Matthews family survey results from 2017-2018:
This school has great teachers and staff = 94.9% agree
My child feels safe at school = 94.9% agree
I feel welcome when I visit my child’s school = 93.4% agree
My child’s school has a great school culture = 88.6% agree

Prairie Branch family survey results from 2017-2018:
This school has great teachers and staff = 91.4% agree
My child feels safe at school = 95.7% agree
I feel welcome when I visit my child’s school = 86.2% agree
My child’s school has a great school culture = 88.3% agree


PARENT: Some areas south of I-70 were not changing elementary schools because some parents requested that they stay at Matthews. For a school district that has been a good proponent of fairness, this decision is not fair.

DISTRICT: No neighborhoods have received special treatment and nothing about the proposed changes was influenced by any parent or group of parents prior to the proposal being shared with our community. If you are referring to the Valley Hills neighborhood south of I-70, this area is already divided for middle school boundaries. The proposed elementary boundary adjustment would follow the same boundary as the middle school so that moving forward, all Matthews and Prairie Branch students would attend North Middle School and all Sni-A-Bar and Stony Point students would attend South Middle School.


PARENT: My husband and I are in as agreement with the boundary changes and happy that this will put our children with the other students they will attend middle school with.

DISTRICT: Together we are working to make the most of a challenging situation.


PARENT: We saw the expected growth trend chart that clearly showed a "halt" to the population growth in 2008. This is obviously attributable to the recession that happened at that time. As of now, there are economic indicators that show we may be headed for another recession in the very near future, so I would expect the same sort of stop in population growth, making the proposed level of change a bit of a knee-jerk.

DISTRICT: We believe the chart you are referring to is the K ENROLLMENT 1993-2017 Slide in our Community Engagement packet found under the FOR FAMILIES tab of our website at GrainValleySchools.org. This chart shows actual Kindergarten enrollment numbers have remained relatively flat since 2008. As to growth during a recession, we have averaged 18 additional elementary students as a district each year since the Great Recession and use this trend to project it taking up to 10 more years before we need to add an elementary school. We are prepared to start on a new elementary school in as soon as six years if student growth occurs sooner, whether or not we experience another recession.


PARENT: Please don’t move the children. If the decision is made to move the children several things need to be done to help transition. Summer school should be held at the proper school buildings. Summer is a great time to ease students into a new comfort zone.

DISTRICT: We like the idea of having students impacted by boundary changes attending summer school where they would meet some new classmates and teachers over the summer. This may be able to be an option for families.


PARENT: I understand the need for district lines and having to reevaluate their location and use. That being said, I feel that the time frame you are recommending is too short for an effective transition. There are still discussions being held on the matter with no solid plan for introduction to the new school, teacher and community for the students and families affected. I feel this transition might be better placed with a longer time frame. As your slides indicate, the growth is slow and will not change push any building to capacity in the next year or two.

DISTRICT: The School Board could adopt changes to the elementary school boundaries as soon as December. This would still allow time for the district to address personnel changes associated with any change to the boundaries, as well as support a transition for students and families during spring semester. Our plan would be to introduce impacted students and their families to their new school yet this school year and to work with individual families as needed to personalize the transition for any child who needs something extra. We believe asking for input now gives school personnel and families enough time to plan a smooth transition for students and families. We welcome any additional ideas for the best possible transition.

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