Boundary Committee Work Update
Section 279.11 of the Code of Iowa states that the school board of directors possess the sole authority for determining the particular school which each child shall attend in a school district. Boards often use committees to advise the board on a specific task or issue. Committees also serve the purpose of involving the public in soliciting input into the decision making process for the board. Committees develop a broad base of community involvement and use the talents of citizens to help formulate recommendations. When the committee’s final report is submitted to the board, its function is complete and the committee is dissolved. It is important to remember the school board is the legal body governing a district and it cannot delegate its authority. No committee developed by the board can deprive the board of its legal authority.
Last spring the Waukee Board of Education appointed a committee to study attendance center boundaries in the district and make a recommendation to the board this November regarding new boundaries as we open the new Grant Ragan Elementary next fall. The process and information regarding the work to date can be found on our website at: http://blogs.waukeeschools.org/boundary/.
The Waukee Community School District has periodically had to create new boundaries as enrollment grows and new buildings open. The opening of Brookview Elementary in the fall of 2001 triggered the first major redefinition of boundaries. That was followed by Walnut Hills for the fall of 2005, Maple Grove for the fall of 2007, Shuler and Middle Schools for the fall of 2009, and lastly Woodland Hills for the fall of 2012. The bottom line is, every few years we open a new elementary facility, and each time it requires some students to change attendance centers. That can’t be avoided.
A public forum was held last spring soliciting input from parents and citizens regarding the criteria they wanted the committee to keep in mind when considering changes. The Board of Education also established criteria. The consultants hired by the district to facilitate the process, RSP & Associates, holds the committee to that criteria when working through various options for changes to the existing boundaries.
The next Public Forum will be held on October 15 in the Waukee High School Commons. Various boundary scenarios could be shared at that forum and parents, citizens and staff will have the opportunity to comment. The committee will then take that input, make any modifications they believe pertinent, and take a final recommendation to the Board of Education on November 9. At that point individuals will again have the opportunity to provide input to the Board of Education prior to their taking action on December 4.
It’s extremely important that the committee and the school board meet those deadlines, as once new boundaries are established it triggers staff movement throughout the district. That process takes a considerable amount of time and must be completed prior to new staff being hired. Bus routing is also greatly impacted, requiring a great deal of advance planning and preparation.
Regardless of where students end up in the boundary process, one thing is certain, they will all receive the same quality education they are receiving in their current building, with all the same opportunities to grow!