New economy creates a new pace for R-III: student growth will slow

A November report shows the “new economy” will provide some necessary relief for the Lincoln County R-III School District. RSP & Associates presented the 40-member Boundary Committee, comprised of parents, grandparents and patrons of the District, with enrollment projections showing slower growth than previously projected, a large middle school with slight fluctuations in enrollment and an elementary school well overcapacity located in a high growth area.

According to RSP’s projections, the Lincoln County R-III School District will grow 200 students by 2017. In past reports for the R-III District, the planner had projected student enrollment to increase approximately 600 students in the same time period. RSP & Associates Planner Rob Schwarz believes the economic conditions have played a critical role in altering the forecast for the future of R-III.

“The new economic ‘normal’ is going to be a challenge to accept, but the bottom line for Lincoln County R-III School District is enrollment will continue to increase, but at a more reasonable rate, allowing for time to plan for how facilities can accommodate world class education,” Schwarz said.

The Boundary Committee is charged with adjusting the existing elementary boundaries for a new, small elementary, Claude Brown Elementary, that will open in August 2013. When realigning boundaries committee members must be mindful of potential areas of growth to create reasonable lines that will stand up to growth and anticipate the need for a second middle school. Lincoln County R-III Community Relations Specialist April Bryant said realigning boundaries has bigger implications that impact the entire district.

“Essentially, the boundaries this committee is working toward will create a ‘feeder’ school system; certain elementary schools will ‘feed’ a district that will have two middle schools and eventually two high schools at some point in the future.”

The Boundary Committee is following five criteria set by the Board of Education. Members must consider the projected enrollment and building utilization, creating a ‘feeder system’, keeping neighborhoods intact, making adjoining planning areas and transportation considerations.

Superintendent Mark Penny believes the new numbers are encouraging and will allow the district to focus on two areas of concern. “A more manageable pace of student growth will allow us to provide some immediate relief William Cappel Elementary by realigning boundaries for the 2013-14 school year.  Then, we can focus on the next step of the Long Range Plan, which is addressing the size of Troy Middle School,” he said.

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:19 am