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Francis Howell School District announces boundary changes

The Francis Howell School District’s boundaries will look a bit different when the 2019-2020 school year rolls around. The district has announced it plans to implement “soft boundary” changes to ease the burden on some of its more heavily populated schools. 

“The District Capacity Committee has been examining the issues for the past year and, after much discussion and research, presented the redistricting plan to the Board of Education to create long-term solutions to the capacity concerns,” Matt Deichmann, Francis Howell School District’s chief communications and community relations officer, said. “Our overall student enrollment has been fairly steady over the past years, but there are areas of the district that have experienced population growth. Fairmount and Warren elementaries are the two schools that were most impacted by the growth.”

Currently, Fairmount and Warren both are over-capacity, and projections are that enrollment at those two schools will continue to increase with the present attendance boundaries. With a current enrollment of more than 1,100 students, Fairmount is now the largest elementary school in Missouri. 

The process of implementing soft boundary changes at Fairmount and Warren will allow students to stay in their current elementary school until they finish, with school bus transportation provided during this time. It also will allow younger siblings of those students to attend the same school as their older sibling if requested. Only incoming kindergarten and transfer students in those areas will be required to attend the new schools.

“We’ve done soft boundary changes in the past,” Deichmann noted. “We find, for parents, it’s the best way to do this because it makes the change over time and it’s not as intrusive for parents and students.”

The soft boundary changes will affect part of the current Fairmount attendance area, which will become a Central Elementary attendance area. The plan also will shift part of the current Warren attendance area to a John Weldon Elementary attendance area and another part to an Independence Elementary attendance area. Under this plan, Central will receive approximately 84 students, and John Weldon and Independence each will receive approximately 95 students. It will take several years to reach these levels, and the buildings receiving these students will be staffed sufficiently to keep class sizes relatively unchanged.

The boundary changes also will affect the Francis Howell Middle and Francis Howell High attendance areas north of Hwy. 364. Those areas will become Saeger Middle and Francis Howell Central High attendance areas.

In a corresponding move, the current Saeger and Francis Howell Central attendance areas south of Hwy. 364 but north of Hwy. 94 will become Francis Howell Middle and Francis Howell High attendance areas.

The Fairmount attendance area that is shifting to Central Elementary means that those students will remain with their cohort group and continue in the feeder pattern to Hollenbeck Middle and Francis Howell Central.

The same guidelines that apply to the elementary changes in regards to timing and transportation also will apply to those changes. 

The proposal will allow the transition to occur gradually and minimize the impact on students and their families as Francis Howell School District moves students to schools with more available space. The plan will align students into a cleaner feeder system for middle and high school, and allow for continuing growth in the Cottleville area.

For more information, including maps, visit Francis Howell School District’s website, fhsdschools.org.

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