For years, students in the north-central part of the Lawrence school district have been bused across the city to attend Liberty Memorial Central Middle School.
On Monday night, parents asked the school board to change the boundary so their children could attend West Middle School.
The Peterson Road neighborhood, which is north of Peterson Road and east of Kasold Drive and extends to the Kansas River, is within a boundary that funnels students to Deerfield School and then Liberty Memorial Central. West Middle School is several miles closer, and students from the neighborhood pass through the school’s boundary to get to Liberty Memorial Central. The great majority of Deerfield students go on to West, and students from the Peterson Road neighborhood could walk home from school if they went there.
“We have been asking for years,” said Melissa Jakmouj, who lives within the neighborhood and has one child who transferred to West and two others in Deerfield. “It is just so much closer to West.”
The boundary was put in place decades ago to relieve overcrowding at West. However, that problem ended when Southwest Middle School was built in 1994. Back then, there wasn’t much more than a farm house in that section of town, Jakmouj said.
At Monday’s meeting, the district’s chief operations officer, Kyle Hayden, said the boundary was essentially a false one, since many parents were already transferring their students to West. Those transfers have been granted because West isn’t at capacity. During this school year, 60 percent of the sixth- and seventh-grade students in the neighborhood, a total of 28, transferred to West.
“The impact currently is not much at all. They are already choosing to go to West,” Hayden said.
If the boundary shifted, the biggest change would be who would cover transportation cost. Currently, the state of Kansas pays to bus students who live 2.5 miles or more from school. Currently all the students attending Liberty Memorial Central qualify for transportation, but not all of them would at West. If the boundary changed and students wanted to continue attending Liberty Memorial Central, they could request a transfer. But the district would no longer bus them to the school.
By district policy, it’s too late to make any changes for next school year. The earliest the boundary could change is at the start of the 2013 school year. The board agreed to vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting, which would be open for public comment.