Over the past year, Rochester Public Schools (RPS) has been working with the city administration regarding the location of the new middle school, which was one of several projects that the RPS residents voted for on the November 5, 2019 bond referendum.
The goals and criteria the District has utilized with site selection include addressing the current and future capacity, walkability, student demographics, topography, and the City's comprehensive plan, P2S.
During this time, the District has been working through the predevelopment process with city administration, which includes planning and zoning and annexation of the Hart Farm property in SW Rochester. The District studied data extensively before determining a location in SW Rochester would be the ideal location for a new middle school, set to serve the community for the next 75+ years. Some of the information we used included housing data over the past ten years and the capacity of existing middle schools. Our selection in the Hart Farm site in SW Rochester met the District’s criteria for a school site and was the recommendation of the Facilities Task Force to the School Board.
In December, the District submitted documentation for annexation. The City Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to review the annexation documentation at their March 11 meeting. Then, on April 6, the City Council will review the annexation request.
Simultaneously, the District is exploring properties in the Northwest part of town per the request of the City administration. We are using the same criteria that we used in the selection of the SW property. The District is responsible for the impact of the middle school location to our students and families. Therefore, we must review factors such as our students’ ability to walk to the school, the amount of time spent riding a school bus, socio-economic status, and diversity of our student population.
Because the District is studying two different geographical locations for a middle school, we have preliminary drafts of our school district boundaries as a way to gauge the impacts of placing a middle school in the NW versus the SW. The proposed boundaries currently under consideration are working documents, which are still very much in draft form and far from final. We are sharing this background information with you in the interest of ensuring that conceptual information or preliminary draft documents are not misconstrued as something that is in the nature of a final option moving forward.
The District believes in transparency and communication with our families and community. Our families need to know that we will be working with our consultants on boundary options while considering the goals of our referendum, including walkability and equity. Additionally, we must work to balance our students' diversity, socio-economic status, and capacity across the District.
Once the City approves a location of a middle school, the District will be able to continue more in-depth work on our elementary and middle school boundaries. We know boundary changes can be disruptive and are very personal to our families. We will continue to balance the District's responsibility to all students and our criteria mentioned above while providing minimum disruption to families.
We plan to engage our families and seek their feedback after we have a more established draft of boundaries.
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