How will school boundaries be redrawn? How will English language learners be affected? How will this affect special education students? These are all questions, among many others, the Mexico community has with regard to the reconfiguration of its elementary schools. These questions initially came about from a town-hall meeting hosted by the district.
Mexico school board members also had questions about the reconfiguration, which meant a decision on the proposal was postponed until Dec. 18. Due to lingering questions from the public and school board, the district created a frequently asked questions document to address all inquiries from the town hall and November school board meeting.
The proposed reconfiguration will make McMillan elementary school a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten grade center, while Eugene Field and Hawthorne Elementary will house first- through fifth-grade students. A grade-center is similar the format of the Early Childhood Center, Mexico Middle School and Mexico High School — where all students in a particular grade levels attend one school. Eugene Field and Hawthorne will remain as neighborhood schools. This reconfiguration also is expected to allow an expansion of the early elementary program — pre-k and kindergarten — for the district.
So what does that mean for school boundaries and how Mexico is split to accommodate the population at Eugene Field and Hawthorne Elementary schools? According to the FAQ document, a north-south division is being considered with the train tracks being used as the dividing line. If this division is chosen, it is expected to affect between 25 to 35 percent of elementary age students.
The proposal has not yet been approved by the board of education. If the board approves the district to move forward with the proposal, the district will form a committee to work on an implementation plan which would be ready to present to the board by March. Final proposals, such as where to draw school boundaries, will then be presented to the board.
Approval of the reconfiguration proposal itself will allow the district to develop the implementation plan. Final approval of the implementation will be up to the school board.
The main goal of the proposed reconfiguration is to bring class sizes among the grade levels to more equitable numbers. Depending on the grade level, class sizes can have as many as 10 more students in one classroom as compared to another classroom. The secondary goal is to allow for an increase in early elementary enrollment because of current space limits.
According to the FAQ, the district is seeking to make class sizes stay between 18-25 students per classroom, which is within the allowable range of class sizes set out by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The district expect to continue serving ELL students at one school. The district also anticipates special education students will be better served through the reconfiguration. Depending on final proposals in the implementation plan, there could be two special education teachers per building and enough paraprofessionals to assist all special education students at each building.