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Elementary parents concerned Park Hill's redistricting plans are inequitable

Posted at 10:41 PM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 23:48:28-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Parents of students in the Park Hill School District want the district to slow down its redistricting plans.

Several parents contacted 41 Action News after the district held an open house for public feedback Wednesday. Their chief concerns included enrollment levels and a lack of a socio-economic balance among the elementary schools.

"We want every student to have an equal opportunity to be successful and if there's a balance there's more of an opportunity for that. There's more resource allocation for that," said Meredith Suarez, whose son attends Southeast Elementary School.

Because the Park Hill School District is growing, the district is building a new elementary school and a middle school.

There are currently four re-districting proposals, which, according to the school board, took the following criteria into consideration:

  • Enrollment Balance
  • Transportation Distance and Safety
  • Maintain Subdivisions
  • Socio-Economic Balance
  • Minimal Attendance Area Changes

"We know that you're not going to make everyone happy in redistricting. We know it's a really hard job," said Rob Edwards, whose son attends Southeast Elementary School. "We don't do enough to manage or bring down the overall enrollment levels in the elementary school level and we don't do enough to balance the socio-economic levels."

Currently, Chinn Elementary has the highest percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches—37.8 percent. Union Chapel Elementary has the lowest percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches—17.6 percent.

Under the four redistricting proposals, the percentages change and disparity grows.

For example, according to plan A1, the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch at Line Creek Elementary would jump from 37.7 percent to 45.8 percent, while the percentage of students at Union Chapel Elementary would decrease from 17.6 percent to 15.9 percent.

"We go to Southeast Elementary. We love that school. We love the teachers, the facilities, the environment. We love the diversity of the students. That being said, pushing and maintaining over-enrollment and creating greater economic disparity isn't an outcome we would like to see in the redistricting process," said Edwards.

41 Action News spoke with the Nicole Kirby, the school district's director of communications, on Wednesday during the open house.

She said, the redistricting committee has "been going through and drawing lines for the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools and they found it's a really difficult thing to do that."

"We definitely want to hear everybody's feedback," she said.

Park Hill started its redistricting process on June 7, 2018, when the school board created criteria, a timeline and laid out rules for a committee formation.

The first time the committee met was on August 16, 2018. After several meetings, the committee chose four proposals.

Another open house for public feedback is scheduled for Nov. 29, 2018, with the board scheduled to vote on the committee's recommendation a week later.

Edwards and Suarez have both signed an online petition asking the district to delay a decision, in order to give parents and the committee more time to analyze the redistricting proposals.

To give the district feedback, click here.