No decision yet on Maize student placement changes

MAIZE, Kansas – The USD 266 board of education has put off a decision on whether to make changes to the district’s student placement policy until it gets more information about what impacts those changes could be.

“We’re outlining it so that the board has more detailed scenarios that they can take a look at rather than just looking philosophically at ideas that don’t have a lot of the details to it,” Maize superintendent Doug Powers said.

As it stands now, the district randomly assigns students to elementary schools, but it allows parents to choose where they prefer their kids go to middle and high school.

It studied the issue further, and is honing in on three options: keeping the status quo; instituting a feeder system, in which students who attend a certain school are automatically assigned to a certain school at a higher level; and drawing boundaries.

After a round of surveys, school staff said they preferred a boundary system, the option parents railed against at Monday night’s meeting.

“We have bought houses in this district based upon the fact that our children would most likely get to choose which middle school and high school they attend,” parent Michael Casement said. “If boundaries were created, then we would just be like other districts.”

Calls for changes first came in early 2013, when some students did not receive their preferred choice of school. While those decisions were successfully overturned by the Maize school board, district officials are still working to determine whether changes are needed.

Board members said they did not want to commit to anything until they saw further study, specifically with what a boundary system would look like, and figuring out what facilities upgrades could be in the works.

“We’ll work with our administrative team again to look at how would we change status quo to make it a better process, or how would we implement a feeder system to make it a possibility,” Powers said.

Any changes made would not affect the upcoming school year, but it has not been determined when they could take effect, Powers said. Determining facilities upgrade priorities and drawing a potential boundary map would likely take at least another month, with any potential student placement changes not expected until the fall months.

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