While the largest number of students affected by changes in the Independence School District elementary boundaries will go to the new east elementary school, other students in the central portion of the district will also be affected.

While the largest number of students affected by changes in the Independence School District elementary boundaries will go to the new east elementary school, other students in the central portion of the district will also be affected.

“When we looked at the boundary changes, we did not want to move kids just for the sake of moving kids,” said Assistant Superintendent Dale Herl. “We wanted to move as few students as we could while also making sure the bus routes were as safe as possible.”

The boundary changes, which are necessary because of the new elementary school opening this summer, were presented during a special meeting Monday at Spring Branch Elementary School. Jeff Williams, the principal of the new school, was also introduced.

Students who live east of Bryn Mawr and south of Holke Road and who currently attend Blackburn Elementary will attend the new school, which is on Holke Road south of the MCC-Blue River campus. In addition, students in the southeast corner of the Spring Branch attendance area as well as the southwest corner, which is generally north and west of Holke Road, will attend the new 55,000-square foot facility.

About 80 students from Spring Branch and 100 students from Blackburn will be affected. Students who attend the new elementary school will attend Bingham Middle School. High school boundary lines will not change. Generally, students in eastern Independence living north of 23rd Street attend William Chrisman High School and those living south of 23rd Street attend Truman High.

“I believe tonight is a very important night for not only Spring Branch, but the entire district,” Williams said. “It is so exciting to see the growth of student enrollment and that more students are becoming a part of the Independence School District. This is the best (boundary) process I have seen at addressing the needs of students and families.”

While the biggest change is happening to Spring Branch and Blackburn elementary schools, other smaller changes are happening in the central portion of the district. A small pocket of students west of Missouri 291 who currently go to Blackburn will be moved to Glendale Elementary, eliminating the need to cross a major highway. There is also an area that is home to about 40 students east of Noland Road just behind K-Mart who go to Luff Elementary who will move to Glendale. Another area in the southwest corner of the Thomas Hart Benton attendance area has students who are currently bused to Glendale Elementary, crossing two major roads. They will move to Benton. This area affects about 50 students. There will also be minor moves in the north central part of the district that affect students at Glendale, Benton and Christian Ott elementary schools.

The district has announced a “grandfather clause” for all current students. That means students can remain at their current elementary school through the fifth grade. The clause also allows any siblings to remain at the same school. However, the district is only offering this for one year and will not provide transportation if families choose to remain at their current school.

Audria Reilly, a parent of two children who attend Luff Elementary, said she understands that things have to change. However, she said as a parent, the idea of changing schools is “very scary.”

“I made a big effort to buy a house in an area where my kids could attend the same school the entire time. I think it is really disruptive to have to change schools,” she said. “I also feel like the entire school district is affected by one school that is really across town from my home. I do know that change has to happen, but I am still upset that we might have to lose that stability.”

Herl said boundaries will not change again when the new elementary school in western Independence is opened in the summer of 2013. While those plans will not be discussed in depth until next spring, they have already been developed. Sugar Creek Elementary will become a K-2 building and the new school will house second through fifth grades. A group of students in the southwest portion of the district who currently attend Three Trails will move to Korte Elementary. But again, these changes will not happen until the 2013-14 school year.

“My kids will be going to the new (east) elementary school. The transportation component was key for us,” said Megan Dykeman, who has children at Spring Branch. “I felt like the meeting presented good information. I just have been frustrated that we have not known anything until now. I wish they could have posted something online earlier so that we would have had some idea what was going on.”