BARLING, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fort Smith Public Schools is asking Barling parents for input on the future of their kids’ education.
The Fort Smith school board is looking into the idea of changing which high school Barling Elementary will filter into, possibly making the switch from Northside High School to Southside High School. The school board looks at area attendance zones every three years by taking into account enrollment data at each school building.
The majority of the City of Barling is located south of Rogers Avenue, which serves as a boundary to determine which high school most students attend.
School board members believe Barling kids have been sent to Northside since the 1980s to help with enrollment numbers there. Although, recent numbers show NHS now has around 300 more students than Southside, and future enrollment projections show this variance in students at each school growing.
The recent data also showed that the NHS population is over the ‘average capacity’ of its building. The school board said this means there are more students attending Northside than what’s considered the ‘comfortable’ amount of students for the classroom space available. This is not the case for SHS though.
You can take a look at those numbers below:
FSPS parents can request their student attend a school outside of their designated zone due to reasons such as transportation needs, parental choice and the student’s peer group. Of the 39 students requesting to go to Southside, 28 have a Barling address.
School board member, Dalton Person, said the large difference in high school population first came to mind at graduation when there were around 600 more students graduating from NHS than SHS. He said from a historical, geographical and practical standpoint, ‘it just makes sense’ to filter Barling students into SHS instead of NHS.
Not every board member agreed this is the right decision to make, but they all wanted to hear feedback from Barling parents.
“I’m just a little leery of taking a complete school out of one district, as you see what its done and put it in the other, eventually you’re just going to revert back to the same problem,” said another FSPS Board of education member, Matt Blaylock.
A community input meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Barling Elementary on Monday, Feb. 6, or you can submit your thoughts here.