Attendance Area Realignment
Something on which we keep a close eye every school year is our student enrollment. It is normal to see fluctuations in the number of students who attend each of our schools. Enrollments increase or decrease based on students growing into or graduating out of the system, families moving into or out of the area, and new housing developments that are constructed and occupied.
We last adjusted our attendance areas for the 2013-14 school year. At that time, changes were made based on significant housing development scheduled around Rohrerstown Elementary School. While this was of particular concern, after initial construction began, the development plans changed. Fewer homes and more businesses were developed. Because of this change, student enrollment at Rohrerstown did not grow as significantly as anticipated.
Since the 2013-14 school year, however, our student enrollment continues to increase in the Mountville Elementary School and Farmdale Elementary School attendance areas. This has created imbalances in building utilization and increasing concerns related to capacity and equity of service issues in some of our schools.
As part of the exploration process, our team agreed upon a set of goals to be accomplished during a potential attendance area realignment. These include:
- More even distribution of elementary student numbers across our school buildings
- Establish some capacity for growth in all elementary buildings
- Avoiding splitting of neighborhoods and minimize scope of impact to the extent practical
- Strategic placement of special programs, such as autistic or emotional support classrooms, to maintain continuity of cohort movement through grade levels
- Effective and open communication of process
- Spring/Summer 2018: Initial planning and discussions
- August 14, 2018: Initial School Board presentation.
- September 11, 2018: Proposals shared with School Board.
- October - December 2018: Building level meetings with community stakeholders and ongoing conversation with and updates to the Board.
- January 15, 2019: School Board vote on final proposal
- Second Semester 2019: Transition plan communication and work with impacted stakeholders
- 2019-2020: New attendance area boundaries in effect
At the Tuesday, October 9 School Board Meeting, Hempfield School District board members and administrators discussed the proposed attendance area realignment. A motion was made by a board member to continue planning related to the proposed phase one moves; however, after board members discussed and voted on this motion, the vote was split with four members in favor of moving forward with phase one and four members opposed. (One school board member was absent from the meeting.) There were no additional motions made regarding the attendance area realignment.
Because of this split vote from the school board, all community meetings related to the attendance area realignment are cancelled. The school board may choose to discuss ideas and recommendations for potential attendance area realignment at future school board meetings and board members requested that administration provide ongoing enrollment updates. All school board meetings are listed on the District Calendar.
School Board Presentations
Why are you proposing changes to the elementary attendance areas?
The overall goal of this attendance area realignment is to achieve more even distribution of elementary students across our school buildings while also establishing some capacity for growth in all elementary buildings.
Why was my neighborhood selected to be realigned to another elementary school?
When looking at maps for potential realignment, there are some geographic constraints as far as where students can be moved to create smooth attendance areas. We attempted to maintain neighborhoods within the same attendance area.
How many students are impacted by the proposed realignment?
The total number of current district students impacted is about 373, forty-six of which are current 6th graders who will be moving to middle school for the 2019-20 school year.
My student will be a 6th grader during the 2019-20 school year. Must they really transition to a new school?
This is something that has not been decided at this point. We need to continue to evaluate enrollment and growth through December 2018. If the district provides the option for next year’s 6th graders to remain in the same school, the parent(s)/guardian(s) would need to provide transportation.
Will the redistricting plan affect where my child goes to middle school?
The alignment of the elementary schools to middle schools would not change under this proposed plan. Landisville and Farmdale schools would still go to Landisville Middle School and Centerville, East Petersburg, Mountville and Rohrerstown would still go to Centerville Middle School. For instance, if your attendance area is moving from CES to RES, there is no impact to any student’s living in the home. If your attendance area is moving from MES to LPC/LIC, your student would attend LMS instead of CMS.
What is the target enrollment of our elementary schools?
Each of our elementary schools can accommodate 600 full-day students comfortably.
If there are 600 or more students in a school, are class sizes negatively affected?
Class sizes are not necessarily affected by the number of students in the school. Our class size practices are completely independent from the total population of a school. If one elementary school has more total students than another school, the amount of students in individual classrooms is still consistent among all seven elementary schools. The school with the larger population would continue to add more sections until the school population grew beyond the ability to do so as a result of classroom and other facility space constraints.
Why can’t you just move teachers around to accommodate the higher enrollments at specific schools?
The issue is not with the availability of classroom teachers, the issue is with the physical space to accommodate students in classrooms.
How will transportation routes be impacted by these changes?
We will be reviewing specific routing impacts. Since most areas potentially impacted are centrally located, we do not expect any significant busing changes.
How will the schools be ready to support families who are transitioning to a new school?
Pending school board approval in January, we will begin working with impacted students and families during the second semester of 2019 (January through June). Transition planning activities will be communicated and available for families. We are committed to supporting students and families that will be impacted by realignment to ensure transition can be accomplished successfully.
What level of confidence does the district have regarding the growth in our district?
We worked very closely with our townships and municipalities to arrive at these projections. In the recommended Short-Term Balanced Option, we are only looking at homes that have been built or are in the process of being built and will be ready for occupancy by 2020-21. Confidence levels are a primary reason why administration did not recommend the Long-Term Growth Option. The long-term development plans (beyond 2020-21 occupancy) are still in conceptual phase so the final build-out, including timeframes, is not solidified.
Will long-term potential housing development require redistricting again in several years?
One of the three options reviewed with the School Board was a Long-Term Growth Option. These moves would have been based on long-term projections for the construction of housing units beyond the 2020-21 school year. However, there is a lower confidence level regarding these projections, and we do not want to move students now unnecessarily. Housing growth is something we will be monitoring closely in Hempfield School District, and we cannot eliminate the potential need to realign attendance areas again in several years, given possible construction and population shifts across the district.
Was an outside agency used to assist with research and recommendations for the proposed changes?
Under the direction of our Chief Operating Officer, a team of district administrators used software from Sapphire (our Student Information System), Transfinder Corporation, and Arc GIS from Esry to make informed decisions.
What activities will be built into the second semester transition plan for impacted students and families?
Individualized letters will be mailed to the families who will be affected by the attendance area realignment that is proposed to go into effect for the 2019-20 school year. A variety of experiences will be offered to impacted students and families to ensure a successful transition, including evening open houses and meet-the-principal/school counselor events during the school day. We will send out details regarding these transition activities in January 2019. While we understand that the thought of changing schools can be difficult, please know that all of our elementary principals and staff look forward to welcoming your family to their school communities.
How can I submit comments, questions, or concerns?
We encourage you to attend a building level meeting and speak to a member of our team. If you are unable to make one of those dates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attendance Area Realignment Video