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School Board approves attendance zones for 2014-15 academic year

By Bill ShortMillington Schools logo

In response to the superintendent’s recommendation, the Millington School Board this week unanimously approved attendance zone lines proposed for the 2014-15 academic year.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Don Holsinger and seconded by Louise Kennon.
The zone lines were prepared by Nedra Jones, who has been hired by Shelby County’s six suburban municipalities to provide planning services for all the municipal school districts.
During a slide presentation shortly before the vote, Jones described the recommended boundary changes and how they will impact the student enrollment anticipated for the upcoming school year.
She began with a map of Millington’s existing elementary school zones for In-District students – those who live inside the city’s corporate limits or in its Reserve Annexation Area. She said those students are currently served by four elementary schools – E. A. Harrold, E. E. Jeter, Millington Elementary and Lucy Elementary.
Although it was not shown on the map, Jones acknowledged that another elementary school zone – Barret’s Chapel – currently exists east of Austin Peay Highway for some students who live in the Reserve area.
The municipal district will include only four schools – E. A. Harrold and Millington Elementary, as well as Millington Middle and Millington Central High School.
While displaying a map of the boundary changes scheduled for this fall, Jones said they extend outward to include the Reserve area.
Noting that the attendance zone for E. A. Harrold has been “adjusted slightly,” she said some of the area to the west will be removed, because it is outside of the district.
“We extended the boundary just a little bit south to Shelby Road,” she said. “So, we’ve taken in the area that was zoned to E. E. Jeter, and we’re now showing it as a part of E. A. Harrold.”
Jones said the new boundary for Millington Elementary will include everything that was previously zoned to Lucy Elementary.
“It jumps over and goes west of Highway 51,” she noted, “and we take in the little section that was zoned to E. E. Jeter. It then extends northeast, taking in what would have been zoned to Barret’s Chapel.”
This fall, Jones said, all In-District middle-school-aged students will be zoned to Millington Middle School. So, its re-configured attendance zone will be “contiguous” with the Reserve area boundary.
She acknowledged that the current attendance zone for MCHS is a “very large area” that includes students who live in Shelby Forest and Northaven, as well as those within the city limits. So, its new boundary will basically “mimic” the one for Millington Middle.
Under the existing boundaries, Jones said, 357 students are currently enrolled at E. A. Harrold, which puts its “utilization” at 89.2 percent. But she noted that the utilization rate does not include the eight portable classrooms at the school.
Jones cautioned the board members not to get “too hung up” on the utilization rate, because it is “programmatic” and not “design” utilization of space.
“Your programmatic capacity is going to change from year to year,” she said, “because it’s based on the program offerings in the school. You want to pay more attention to the enrollment number, because it tells you if you can support an elementary, middle or high school program.”
Even with a decrease in the attendance zone or the geographic area for E. A. Harrold, Jones said, its enrollment number will drop only “slightly” to 316 In-District students.
While noting that 616 In-District students are currently enrolled at Millington Elementary, she said that puts its utilization rate at slightly more than half of the building. But with expansion of the school’s geographic area, she said that enrollment number will increase to 837.
Millington Middle currently has 504 In-District students enrolled, with a utilization rate at 84 percent. But when its attendance zone is changed, Jones said the enrollment will increase to 583, with a utilization rate of  97.1 percent.
She noted that 1,248 In-District students are currently enrolled at MCHS, with a 64.3-percent utilization rate. But when the school’s attendance zone is changed, that number will decrease to 699, putting its utilization at 36 percent.
Based on the Out-of-District students who have thus far indicated their intent to enroll this fall, Jones said E. A. Harrold will gain at least 42, increasing its enrollment to 358.
“That number is changing daily,” she acknowledged. “I believe there have been some more students added since we put this presentation together.”
With Millington Elementary scheduled to gain approximately 20 students, she said that will increase its enrollment to 857. And 73 students will be added at Millington Middle, increasing its enrollment to 656.
Jones said 323 Out-of-District students have indicated their intent to enroll this fall at MCHS, which will increase its enrollment to 1,022.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of the municipal school system, said each of those Out-of-District numbers is based on enrollment intent forms that have thus far been returned to the school system requesting Out-of-District transfers.
But Holsinger expressed concern that some of those might not actually become enrollments, because the school system is unable to provide transportation for Out-of-District students.
“I think we need to watch these numbers very closely,” he said, “because they could possibly not turn into what is sort of the optimum here.”
Roper said enrollment intent was one of the “primary purposes” of a Pre-Registration event that was conducted on March 27 at Millington’s four schools for currently enrolled In-District students. He noted that a second Pre-Registration has been scheduled on April 15 for:
(1) Out-of-District students, whether currently enrolled in the Millington schools or not;
(2) In-District students who are not currently enrolled; and
(3) other students who were not able to pre-register on March 27.
“We believe that’s the next level of intent,” he said, “going beyond just signing a form by actually coming to the school and taking part in this pre-registration process.”
But calling Holsinger’s concerns “valid,” Board Chairman Greg Ritter asked Roper to consider them while he is compiling this information.
“We understand that you’re working with the best information you have,” he concluded, “and we’ll plan on the information that we have. Then, when the actual results are different, we’ll have to go from there.”

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