Do We Know if Enrollment Numbers Support Wichita School Bond Issue?

Writing in the Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog, Phillip Brownlee writes “Some opponents of the USD 259 bond issue have argued that the district shouldn’t need more classroom space because its enrollment has been fairly flat since the 2000 bond issue.” He then goes on to make the case for the district needing more schools and classroom space.

The problem is that it’s difficult to understand the nature of the capacity problem — if in fact it exists — in USD 259, the Wichita public school district. Unfortunately for the citizens of Wichita, the Wichita Eagle is not always helpful. For example, a recent Eagle article highlighted overcrowding at a school (Wichita Eagle reports Wichita area schools’ enrollment increases). Enrollment is up, and adjustments had to be made at the school.

A little investigation reveals that according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for USD 259, the capacity of this school is 600.

What is the enrollment in this school that is so notable that the Wichita school superintendent used this school to hold a press conference announcing the new enrollment figures?

576.

Stated capacity of this school: 600.

So what is the problem? Perhaps the school is truly overcrowded. If so, why does the information the Wichita school district publishes state the capacity is 600?

Or, if the capacity is indeed 600, why are district officials complaining when enrollment is 576?

This information didn’t appear in the Eagle’s news story. To me it’s another illustration of how difficult it is to deal with USD 259 and the information it generates for public consumption.

Then, I’d ask Mr. Brownlee to familiarize himself, if he isn’t already, with some of the issues surrounding the district’s effort to reduce class sizes. These articles may be helpful: In Wichita Schools, Smaller Classes Mean Adding On — And Subtracting, A Flood of New Wichita Public School Students: The Other Story, and Focus on Class Size in Wichita Leads to Misspent Resources.

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