Pine-Richland officials begin preliminary redistricting discussions - PineCreek Journal

Pine-Richland officials begin preliminary redistricting discussions

Sunday, September 15, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Pine-Richland School Board members and administrators will begin preliminary discussions about redistricting at a joint student and operational services committee meeting on Oct. 7.

A related topic on the agenda for the evening will be updating the district’s demographic study, last conducted in 2016, as one of the strategic plan goals for this year. Although Oct. 1 is the official date to determine enrollment because the start of each year has some fluctuation with withdrawals and new students, Superintendent Brian Miller said the district has observed trends in recent years.

“What we’re seeing is exactly what we thought we’d see,” he said. “As a district, we’re flat. It’s almost stunningly stable, our total student enrollment in K-12. But at the K-to-3 level, we’re seeing exactly what the 2016 study told us we would see, which is over the years Richland (Elementary) is on a 5-year decline in terms of their enrollment. Hance (Elementary) is on a slight decline, but it’s a little more erratic in terms of numbers, but it’s easily the smallest building. And Wexford (Elementary) is on a five-year increase in enrollment.”

What that means practically, Miller said, is that at Wexford Elementary this year, there are six sections of kindergarten, first, second and third grades. Administrators can shift staff depending on need, he said, but they also have known there would come a time where they have to think about managing what’s happening with enrollment at the schools.

The new demographic study will help the district assess those needs as they relate to possible redistricting.

“Redistricting is not an easy conversation to have anywhere, at any time,” Miller said. “One of the pieces of a redistricting conversation is setting the criteria or the deciding factors that should be thought about or considered.”

For instance, Miller said, there are factors to be considered such as the estimated time window for redistricting; whether children heading into third grade would be grandfathered in to stay at the same primary school; and the importance of keeping a neighborhood intact.

“This will be a really good conversation, I hope, and the goal after this would be then to reach out and begin the study and information so we have the time to be able to evaluate,” he said.

Pine-Richland homecoming is set for Sept. 20. The theme this year is “Dancing Through the Decades,” and Spirit Week will feature a different day from each of the five decades of the district leading up to Saturday’s dance. The community is invited to the football game against Norwin at 7 p.m. Friday.