Not everyone will be happy.
A few Omaha Public Schools board members acknowledged that fact Monday night before the board voted 8-1 to change school attendance areas for the state’s largest school district. Board member Lou Ann Goding voted no.
All seven high schools and multiple elementary and middle schools in south Omaha and Bellevue are affected.
The changes are necessitated by the opening of five new schools in the coming years, district officials said. They will go into effect as those new schools open.
Last spring, the district held eight community meetings to give members of the public opportunities to weigh in on proposed changes to attendance areas. The district also collected feedback online.
School board member Tracy Casady said there will be families who will be able to see the high school they want their children to attend from their windows but won’t be within the attendance area for that school.
“We wish that this process could make everyone happy,” Casady said. “It just can’t. It simply will not.”
Goding voted against the changes because she has concerns about decreases in the number of students at Burke and Northwest High Schools and the potential for overcapacity at the new high school planned for northwest Omaha based on empty lots and planned construction in the area.
With the new attendance areas established, the district will now focus on making changes to the student assignment plan, which is important in a district like OPS, where 45% of high school students do not attend their neighborhood schools. The student assignment plan dictates busing rules and eligibility.
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The schools, each with a capacity of 1,500 students, are scheduled to open in the 2022-23 school year. They will bring the district’s total number of high schools to nine.
The district is opening the high schools, another middle school and two elementary schools in the coming years with money from a $409.9 million bond issue passed in 2018.
The first of the new schools scheduled to open is an elementary school at Fort Crook and Childs Roads in August 2021.
The approved changes for high school attendance areas would eliminate the shared attendance zones for some high schools and split six elementary schools and eight middle schools at the high school level. Currently, eight middle schools split at the high school level.