School plan draws concern

Parents raised concerns about building layouts, the number of students in the hallways and renovating Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School at the first of three public meetings about a proposed redistricting plan.

And school officials shared details about what they are doing to address those worries and issues, including a special, transitional schedule for sixth-graders, possibly altering passing periods at the middle school so hallways don’t get too crowded and installing new fenced-in playgrounds at the current intermediate school.

About 29 percent of Clark-Pleasant’s 3,017 elementary-aged students will be relocated to a new elementary school for the 2016-17 school year. About half the children who live in the Break-O-Day and Sawmill Woods elementary school boundaries will be moved to new schools next year, Superintendent Patrick Spray said. Sawmill Woods Elementary, which has Grades K-1, will close at the end of the school year.

The current intermediate school will be turned into another elementary school, and sixth-graders throughout the school district will move to Clark-Pleasant Middle School.

School officials have said the changes are needed in order to make room for growth in enrollment in Clark-Pleasant schools.

A redistricting committee composed of parents, teachers, administrators and school board members unveiled the elementary school boundaries two weeks ago. Now, they are getting feedback from parents, families and the community, including questions and anything the redistricting committee might have overlooked.

The school board is slated to vote on the redistricting plan in November.

More than a dozen parents stopped by Clark Elementary School on Tuesday to ask questions about the new setup.

For the sixth-graders moving to the middle school, parents brought up concerns about overcrowded hallways with about 500 more students moving in.

On the list of options: an alternate passing period schedule so sixth-graders will not be changing classes at the same time as seventh- and eighth-graders.

Sixth-grade students would stay in their own wing of the school, separate from older students, Spray said. Sixth-graders will remain with the same four teachers for core subjects, like math and science, and will not change to a seven-period class schedule like the seventh- and eighth-grade classes have now, he said.

Parent Tara Simon, who has a kindergartner at Clark Elementary this year, will be one of the families moving to the new elementary school in the current intermediate school building. Although the new school will be closer to her home in the Woodgate subdivision, she is concerned about how the intermediate school will be renovated to accommodate younger kids.

“My biggest concern was how ready the school would be for those kids since it wasn’t built for younger kids,” Simon said. “My bigger concern is the interstate access that’s going to be there, with the gas station and how busy that will be, and how easy it’ll be to get back on the interstate. That’s a huge concern of mine.”

Spray walked through the intermediate school this summer with kindergarten and first-grade teachers to see what would needed to be renovated to accommodate younger students, he said.

Door handles and restrooms already were built for children to use, so that will not need to be adjusted before the next school year, he said. Lockers, on the other hand, will have their combination locks taken off so that the students don’t have to deal with those. Eventually, school officials may change some of the lockers into cubbies for the younger grade levels, Spray said. But officials have no estimates on how much that would cost, he said.

The classrooms are already large enough that they don’t need to be altered or expanded, Spray said. But small modifications might need to be made. For example, if students need to use sinks in the room and they’re not tall enough to reach them, the teachers most likely will have the children use step stools, he said.

A new playground will be installed this summer for younger students, and it will be fenced in to keep children safe, Spray said.

The intermediate school currently has about 1,000 fifth- and sixth-graders and will have 775 kindergarten through fifth-graders next year. Officials wanted to leave enough room for new developments in the future, Spray said.

New subdivisions have been approved to be built in the Clark-Pleasant school district, including the Trails at Southlake subdivision, south of Worthsville Road. Right now, about 70 students come from that subdivision, but more could come to the new elementary school if the subdivision reaches its planned 600 homes, Spray said.

If you go

Parents have two more chances to speak up about the new redistricting plan for Clark-Pleasant schools:

Today, 6 p.m., Break-O-Day Elementary School, 900 Sawmill Road, New Whiteland

Oct. 8, 6 p.m., Clark-Pleasant Intermediate School, 2111 Sheek Road, Greenwood.