The Washington School District will not seek a demographic study and instead may hire a consultant to assist with boundary line analysis and bus routing efficiency.
On the recommendation of the superintendent, the school board last Wednesday rejected four demographic proposals which came in higher than anticipated.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the district plans to meet with TransPar Group to learn more about its consulting services and expertise.
A purchased service agreement may be more cost-effective, she said. More information will be provided at the December board meeting.
“We rejected all bids because we feel like TransPar Group may be able to provide us the services we need at cheaper cost than the demographers who submitted proposals,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon.
“They are school bus consultants who provide multiple services,” he said. “We will specifically be asking them to analyze our students’ current residency, our current attendance boundaries and if there is any way to improve school bus routing and scheduling.
“TransPar also will be asked to analyze what this all would look like if South Point Elementary is retired and we build a new elementary school,” he said. “We envision them producing multiple scenarios in order to help us best determine attendance areas for all seven elementary schools.”
The school board last week authorized the superintendent to negotiate terms with Bond Architects Inc., St. Louis, to design a new elementary school to replace South Point, as well as make safety improvements districtwide.
The board has not yet formally voted to proceed with a bond issue, but it has been discussed repeatedly. Formal approval is expected at the December board meeting, along with ballot language, for a $26 million no-tax rate increase bond issue on the April 2019 ballot.
If approved, the new elementary school would open in August 2021.
Failure to pass a bond issue and the inability to utilize the current South Point campus could result in student redistribution throughout the other six elementary attendance areas.
The boundary line analysis, coupled with enrollment data and projection, also would help determine how students could be shifted.
Relocating students also could happen if the South Point School building further deteriorated and was deemed unsafe — something school officials don’t expect to happen, but they will have a plan in place in case it does.
South Point Elementary is located in a 100-year flood plain, and there are many issues with the aging building. The district is currently seeking bids for repairs to the gym walls that have cracks. The gym is no longer being used.
The school, which is currently at capacity and utilizing three trailer-style classrooms, has 433 students and approximately 70 staff members.