Drawing new boundaries

The Francis Howell School District will redraw the boundaries of Fairmount and Warren Elementary Schools, which are both currently over capacity.

By Brett Auten

Every so often, some maneuvering is called for.

The Francis Howell School District has seen splashes of significant population growth within its boundaries. And it just so happens that these increases in are occurring in two elementary schools that are already about to top out due to student population. 

Currently both Fairmount and Warren Elementary are over capacity, and projections are that enrollment at those two schools will continue to increase with the present attendance boundaries. With a current enrollment of more than 1,100 students, Fairmount is now the largest elementary school in Missouri. 

The District Capacity Committee has been examining the issue for some time, and after much discussion and research, presented a plan to the Francis Howell Board of Education that will create long-term solutions to the capacity concerns. 

The process will use soft boundary changes at Fairmount and Warren that will allow students to stay in their current elementary school until they finish, with school bus transportation provided during this time. It will also allow younger siblings of those students to attend the same school as their older sibling if requested. Only incoming kindergarten and transfer students in these areas will be required to attend the new schools.

Dr. Will Vanderpool is the district’s  Director of Alternative Learning and headed up the District’s Capacity Committee. He said that every two-to-three years, boundary adjustments like these are needed to be made.

“We have an overall stable district enrollment,” Vanderpool said. “But we have pockets of real growth. It doesn’t take a whole lot of new students, around 50 or 60, before things start to get pushed to capacity.”

These soft boundary changes will affect part of the current Fairmount attendance area, which will become a Central Elementary attendance area. The plan will also shift part of the current Warren attendance area to a John Weldon Elementary attendance area and another part to an Independence Elementary attendance area. Under this plan, Central will receive approximately 84 students, and John Weldon and Independence will each receive approximately 95 students. 

“It will take several years to reach these levels, and the buildings receiving these students will be staffed sufficiently to keep class sizes relatively unchanged,” Vanderpool added.

These boundary changes will also affect the current Francis Howell Middle and Francis Howell High School attendance areas north of Highway 364, they will become Saeger Middle and Francis Howell Central High School attendance areas. In a corresponding move, the current Saeger and FHC attendance areas south of Highway 364 but north of Highway 94 will become Francis Howell Middle and FHHS attendance areas. The Fairmount attendance area that is shifting to Central Elementary will also mean that those students will remain with their cohort group and continue in the feeder pattern to Hollenbeck Middle and FHC. The same guidelines that apply to the elementary changes in regards to timing and transportation will also apply to these changes. 

According to Vanderpool, the proposal will allow the transition to occur gradually and minimize the impact on students and their families as we move students to schools with more available space. The plan will also align students into a cleaner feeder system for middle and high school.

“We are trying not to overload Warren Elementary and give it room to as the Cottleville area continues to see growth with a lot of new subdivisions being built,” he added.  

For more information, including maps, visit the district website at www.fhsdschools.org

CUTLINE: Photos courtesy Francis Howell School District The Francis Howell School District will redraw the boundaries of Fairmount and Warren Elementary schools due to population growth.