Rezoning issue ends with increase of Broken Arrow students switching schools
By Brittany Harlow, Contributing Writer
Nearly 90 students in the Washington Lane neighborhood will be moving schools following a unanimous decision by the Broken Arrow Board of Education Monday night.
The controversial move comes after the matter was tabled last month to allow time for exploring additional options.
Amber Hamilton, a resident of the Washington Lanes neighborhood who spoke out against the rezoning during the March meeting, returned to request the district move another neighborhood instead, and remove them from possible rezoning for at least 5 years.
“This band-aids the problem for one year for some kids, but what about the parents who have been forced to accommodate the last decade of shifts?” Hamilton said. “At the end of the last board meeting, we were assured there would be new options presented. Not one of these options excluded the Washington Lane neighborhood.”
School officials said expanding the Vandever Elementary boundary is necessary to accommodate growth from new developments in the Rosewood Elementary boundary, and Washington Lane is on the border.
The original rezoning option would have impacted 81 students, with 17 students who either had a year left at Rosewood, their siblings, or those who had been moved during the last boundary change given the option to remain at Rosewood.
Elementary children of Washington Lanes had been rezoned to Rosewood in 2020 following the school’s completion. Just a few years later, school officials said it’s already close to being over capacity.
Three additional options were presented to parents and community members at the end of March. Option 2 shows 117 students impacted, with 30 eligible to remain at Rosewood, effectively doubling the rezoning from option 1.
Option 3 shows 156 students impacted, with 47 eligible to remain at Rosewood; and option 4 shows 111 students impacted, with 37 eligible to remain at Rosewood.
Chief Technology Officer Ashley Bowser said more than 50% of parents who attended a meeting on March 27 selected Option 2 (27/51) so that is what he recommended for the board’s approval.
The rest of the parents were split between Option 3 and Option 4. No one voted for the original option.
Bowser said the Washington Lane neighborhood has had to endure shifting boundaries over the last decade, but up until now all moves were due to new schools being built.
He told the board 20% of current development within the BAPS district is happening within Rosewood boundaries and, despite the uptick in homes being rezoned to Vandever, additional solutions will likely be needed to accommodate the more than 700 homes currently planned or under construction.
‘It’s a hard choice’
Board of Education Vice President Jerry Denton said he knows how tough rezoning is on families, having experienced it in his own household in the past.
“I’m appreciative of the fact that you all don’t take this lightly,” Denton said. “And I have personally witnessed this, to me it’s a hard choice. But the right is right when, and I can rest on that, we’re looking at the size of the classroom. When it comes to the size of the classroom, we know, we have seen and it has been proven that’s a make-or-break in a successful classroom and learning environment.”
Added Bowser: “We feel like this buys us a little bit of time to be able to make a wholescale assessment of the whole district. Rosewood needs immediate attention as we talked about before due to the class sizes now, the capacities, capacity considerations, so we need to make some quick movement.”