New boundaries mean shifting students in Shawnee Heights district

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Some Shawnee Heights students will have to change schools next year, because the district is making new boundaries to even out the four elementary schools.

“We’ve got a couple buildings that are pushing 500 or a little over,” says Superintendent Martin Stessman, “Berryton Elementary and Shawnee Heights Elementary. At the same time, Tecumseh North is right at 339 students, so we see a need to redistribute the student population.”

The school board presented two scenarios to parents last week. One sends Miriam Fischer’s children to Tecumseh North, but leaves the surrounding streets at Shawnee Heights.

“I was really surprised that they would do that, that they would go in and carve out a few streets,” Fischer says, who can see Shawnee Heights from her front yard.

After some concern from parents about the layouts, the board presented two additional scenarios at the meeting Wednesday evening. Stessman says they’re keeping certain criteria in mind.

“One was keep neighborhoods in tact, two was keep continuous planning areas, so no islands or doughnut holes, three was transportation should make sense, four was it should solve the problem and redistribute students, and five was minimize the number of students that were impacted,” Stessman says.

Both parents and board members agree – all four schools will provide the same education and resources to students.

“If we are realigned into another school, my kids will go there, I’m sure they’ll like it, I will volunteer there, I will participate, we’ll be fine,” Fischer says, “I just want it to be done in a fair way.”

All four scenarios are still on the table and there could be even more drawn up. Stessman says the board expects to make a decision by March and the changes will take effect this fall.

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