GIPS moving some incoming students away from Barr, Walnut and into Westridge

Students from Knickrehm and Gates elementary schools will now go to Westridge middle school.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 6:16 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools Thursday announced that they are moving incoming students who previously would have gone to Barr or Walnut Middle Schools to Westridge.

Incoming sixth grade students from Knickrehm Elementary will now go to Westridge instead of Walnut. And incoming sixth grade students from Gates elementary will now go to Westridge instead of Barr. The status of students at the other elementary schools in the district is unchanged.

In a press release, GIPS said the moves would alleviate what it called “overcrowding” at Barr and Walnut and “under capacity” at Westridge.

According to figures from the district, Barr Middle school’s capacity was rated at 725 students. During the 2021-22 school year, there were 775 students enrolled there. Walnut’s capacity was rated at 875 students with a 20-21 enrollment of 849. Meanwhile, Westridge with a capacity of 700 students, had only 556 enrollments.

”Westridge was built 15 years ago, it was already designed to accommodate any future expansion,” GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover told Local4 News in an interview Friday.

Without the adjustment, Walnut Middle School was expected to be overcapacity by 25 students for the upcoming academic year. Walnut principal Rod Foley said he’s personally witnessed the overcrowding at his school.

“The more you crowd into a hallway that’s designed for a certain number of people and you’ve got more than that, certainly creates opportunities for you know, to feel uncomfortable and so, moving to an opportunity where we are in a building that’s within its capacity limits would certainly be beneficial for all three middle schools,” Foley said.

The press release stated, “Through this shift in feeder schools to Westridge, both quality learning and the highest level of safety can be provided for our students.”

The district said families would be allowed to move older brothers and sisters to the new school, but would not be required to do so. The district also said it would provide busing to and from school for all students and that parents would receive information about bus routes in August.

The district said that Knickrehm and Gates schools will continue to feed Westridge going forward.

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