Frequently Asked Questions-and-Answers

Why change boundaries?
The main criteria for changing boundaries are as follows:

  • To balance enrollment in buildings as well as optimizing space in our buildings.
  • To allow more neighborhood students to attend their neighborhood school.
  • To align when possible school feeder systems.

Which schools will have new attendance areas as a result of this change?
Capitol View, Carver, Cattell, Downtown, Edmunds, Findley, Garton, Hanawalt, Hillis, Howe, Hubbell, Jefferson, King, Madison, McKinley, Monroe, Moore, Morris, Oak Park, Park Avenue, Perkins, Phillips, Samuelson, Stowe, Walnut Street, Willard, Windsor and Wright.

In addition, Goodrell Middle School’s limited boundary will be expanded.

Which schools will not be impacted?
Brubaker, Cowles, Greenwood, Jackson, Lovejoy, Moulton, Pleasant Hill, River Woods, Smouse, South Union and Studebaker.

Will there be an opportunity for community input?
The following public meetings were held as a part of this process:

  1. Monday, Feb 10, 2014, at Moore – 3725 52nd St. (Cafeteria/Gym)
  2. Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014, at Edmunds Elem – 950 15th St (Library)
  3. Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014, Lovejoy Elem – 801 E. Kenyon (Library)
  4. Thursday, Feb 13, 2014, Carver Elem – 705 E. University Ave. (Library)

How many students will go to a different school as a result of this change?
Out of 15,500 elementary students in the district, approximately 5% could be impacted. But most will have the option to “grandfather,” making the actual short-term impact difficult to quantify at this time although it will be likely less than 800 students. Not all students within any current boundary attend their home school for a variety of reasons.

When will final recommendations go to the school board?
Elementary boundary study began in April of 2013 and the board was updated in December 2013.  Final recommendations are planned for May 2014.

When would this change go into effect?
If approved, the new attendance areas would take effect with the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

My child is already attending an existing elementary school, but the attendance area change impacts where we live; will they have to attend a different school?
Beginning the 2015-2016 school year, kindergarten students* and families new-to-the-district will attend their new neighborhood school based on the boundary changes.   Students currently enrolled will be “grandfathered” and remain at the school they currently attend.  If a current family wishes to attend their “new” neighborhood school based on the boundary change, they will need to indicate such prior to the start of the 2015-2016 school year.  The deadline for notification will be March 1, 2015.  The process for choosing to “grandfather” will be communicated to every impacted family beginning December 2014.  Changes in selected placement will not take place after the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

*For Goodrell, this would apply to 6th grade students.

Will this impact open enrollment or with-in district transfers?
No. Open enrollment and with-in district transfer procedures would be unchanged and remain an option for families.  Also, siblings will continue to have priority.

How does this impact Cowles, Phillips, Downtown School, Walnut Street School, Jefferson, and Goodrell?
These schools have had a very minimal boundary.  To expand the opportunity for neighborhood students to attend their neighborhood school, boundaries for these schools have expanded.

Are some students currently not able to attend their home school?
Yes.  Some students must attend other schools because some are considered at capacity.  Also, some schools have had a small (restricted) boundary so some students have not been able to attend.

Will the school district change boundaries again?
To optimize our schools, periodic review of school attendance areas will continue.

How will this impact transportation of elementary students?
State standards provide busing to students living 2 miles from school.  In our school district elementary students are bused at 1 ½ miles from school.  In some cases this will qualify some students for transportation and in some cases not.

Routing each year is based upon student locations which constantly change.  There will be some additional transportation costs until grandfathering has run its course.  Routes in upcoming years will be determined after registration.

Do the boundary changes include the opening of any new schools?
Yes.  Moore Elementary School in the northwest area of the city will be reopened to better distribute students.  Also, the new Jesse Franklin Taylor Center at Casady will open next school year to allow more room for neighborhood students at other schools.

Why would Moore be re-opened?
Moore will provide relief to neighboring schools with large enrollment, healthy class sizes and limited classroom space.  To help in providing improved school enrollment balance.

Have safe routes been considered, including traffic studies, for the impacted boundary areas?
Safe routes and traffic are considered for the impacted boundary areas.  Determining the safety of locations is done on an individual basis after considering all of the relevant information and circumstances.

Based upon community input, more clear safety busing guidelines will be created.

Was there a study to see how property values would be impacted by the proposed boundary changes?

The information and data collected from the boundary study does not include property values.

Are some students given priority to attend a school thus forcing other kids to move schools?
Neighborhood students receive priority to attend their neighborhood school.  If a building is at capacity, then a student in the attendance area may have to go to another school that has space.

Some proposed boundary changes would have kids go further to their neighborhood school than they do currently.  Why is this?
Some of the boundary changes help balance enrollment and create additional capacity in schools.  Some changes create a further distance for families to travel to get to their “new” proposed school.  This happened in a very small number of cases.

Will there be more notifications to the public, as well as, more opportunity for public input?
Community forums were held February 10, 11, 12 and 13.  Communication was sent to families through Infinite Campus.  Community has an opportunity to respond on the district website.  Buildings are providing additional communication and meeting with their PTA. Further communications are being discussed as the process moves forward.

Based on feedback received from community, the proposed attendance area changes will be revisited.  If additional adjustments are made to attendance areas, these will be shared with the community prior to making a recommendation to the School Board.

What is the make up of the people on the boundary committee and how did they determine the lines?
The committee is represented by community members throughout the city.  Changes were based on balancing enrollment, expanding neighborhood schools or aligning feeder systems.   One common characteristic is a genuine obligation to improve opportunities for all students.

Will families be able to see or visit the proposed new school, including the proposed Moore School, before the 2015-2016 school year?
Yes, families will receive additional communication if proposed boundaries are approved and have an opportunity to visit their “new” school.

Would current approved within district transfer students have to move schools when the new boundaries begin?

How do the proposed changes affect the current high school and middle school feeders?  Will this impact middle schools in the near future?
The proposed changes do not impact the current high school and middle school feeders.  The only boundary change for secondary schools will be Goodrell Middle School.  If the proposed changes are approved, there will be eight elementary schools and one middle school that do not have clean feeders.

Will the current kids on the waiting list for choice schools be effected?
All schools are schools of choice in the sense that any parent can apply at any school.  More neighborhood families would be able to attend because of a larger attendance area.

Define the term “Neighborhood school.”
Public school students are assigned to a school to attend because they live in the school’s attendance area. Students who live in a school’s attendance area may also choose to attend another neighborhood public school.

How many clean feeders are there now compared to how many after the proposed boundaries?
There are 23 clean feeders now and 29 clean feeders based on the proposed boundary changes.

Are boundary committee meetings open to the public and how do we find out when they are?
Yes and minutes are posted on the district website.

How can we get involved in district committees?
The district is always looking for volunteers to become involved and participate on committees.  Provide your contact information to central offices or contact your Board member to get involved.

Please explain within district transfer.
Within district transfers are formerly known as open enrollment.  The district website provides detailed information outlining the components and process of within district transfers.

Why don’t you just use the City of Des Moines neighborhood map to draw boundaries?
The locations of school buildings in many cases don’t align with many neighborhood associations.   A priority is optimizing our school buildings and balancing enrollment between buildings so students who live near them are not bused away to other schools.  We must start with where the schools are located in making decisions.

What studies or research went into creating the proposed boundaries?
Enrollment trends, census data, transportation costs, facility needs and student economic status and English Language Learner impact is studied and reviewed for creating any boundary changes.

A formal demographic study was performed in 2013.

With some of the proposed changes, it appears that less neighborhood kids will attend the school.  Is this the plan?
No, in all of the proposed changes more neighborhood children will have the opportunity to attend their neighborhood school.

Are there plans to add to current schools or build new schools in Des Moines?
The proposed boundary changes include a recommendation to reopen Moore Elementary.    Based on enrollment trends and facility needs, some buildings may require additional building space.  This is frequently reviewed by the district in order to create a long term plan for addressing building needs throughout the district.

How does the district decide how a student can attend a school outside the attendance?
After considerable community input, the following will be the proposed order in which students will be considered if there is space available in a school:

  1. Siblings of concurrent students within a school
  2. The district diversity plan
  3. In district transfers
  4. Open enrollment from outside the district

Revised 2.19.14