BOE tables decision on demographic study for redrawing of attendance boundaries

BOE tables decision on demographic study for redrawing of attendance boundaries

The Guthrie Board of Education (BOE) tabled a decision on a demographic study on Monday night that would help the school district to determine what elementary school a student would attend.

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FINCO Geodemographics, LLC was recommended following a request for proposal. The Stillwater company would provide a demographic study of the school district and assist in the redrawing attendance boundaries for all elementary schools in the district.

The biggest obstacle will be the opening of the new elementary school in Charter Oak Elementary.  The school will be located in the largest growing area of the (southern) district.

“I’ve never done this before,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson said. “Dee (Benson), Director of Technology, has never done this before. Dee and I have been working on this for five years now. I felt like we needed some help so that we can get it right.

FINCO would include three to six boundary scenarios for the BOE’s consideration every three to five years.

The company says a boundary analysis would propose an attendance area and calculate the number of total students and grade breakdown totals for each elementary school. They would give a preliminary enrollment forecast for the elementary schools and a final enrollment forecast which would be based on the new boundaries for all the schools.

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School board member Janna Pierson asked Allan Finchum, with FINCO, how have communities reacted to growth, which forces some children away from a school with new boundary lines.

It’s not always easy,” Finchum said.

Pierson responded by saying, “I want to know how we (BOE) are going to prepare for that. It’s going to happen.”

“When you have to zone kids out of a newer school you’re going to tick their parents off. That’s life,” Finchum said.

Finchum drew some criticism from board members when the discussion of political motivation arose.

“Could you do this yourself? Yeah. Politically, do you want to do this yourself or blame me? I think some school districts want someone else to blame. I’m not going to lie.”

“You really believe that is the case,” school board member Terry Pennington asked.

Finchum replied, “I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think they bring in people who have done this before because they are concerned they may miss something.”

Pierson said she had spoken with people about the boundary issue and heard concerns of the political issues that may come, but also the $15,000 price tag for the study.

“I would vote no,” Pennington said. “There’s not a thing in the world that I’m going to do (is) hire for cover. I think anyone who does that is ridiculous.”

Pennington continued, “$15,000 can pay these people more money,” as he pointed to school employees in the audience.

Board member Gina Davis made a motion to table the conversation for future talks and was unanimously approved 5-0.

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