After soliciting input, the Gilbert school board threw parents a curveball Tuesday night and approved a boundary plan for its newest elementary school that the public hadn’t previously seen.
The boundary option was approved 3-2, with Thad Stump, Helen Hollands and Van Dunham in support and Elaine Morrison and Traci Klein opposed.
More than 100 people — mostly Spectrum Elementary School parents — attended the meeting.
The board had gone to the Spectrum community several times asking for input on relieving overcrowding at the school.
Tuesday night’s decision puts in place a new boundary plan the public wasn’t able to comment on until the governing board meeting.
The plan calls for Gilbert Unified School District’s 28th elementary school to open in the fall with 583 students. The school will have capacity for 400 students and will have to use portables to accommodate the rest.
Introduced by board president Stump, the plan will put 638 students at Spectrum in the fall. Eventually, at buildout, there will be 978 at Spectrum and 831 at the new school.
Stump said this option assumes the school will eventually be built to handle 800 students. It also provides balance between the two schools, the ranch communities will provide a solid foundation for the new school, portables will provide flexibility and there will be diversity at both schools, he said.
The drawbacks are that it requires a funding source to build the second phase, and portables will have to be used from the beginning.
Hollands said she was “extremely regretful” the community didn’t see the final boundary plan until the meeting, but that it “balances the needs of all students.”
The community had become divided over options for the new school — whether to draw new boundaries or open an early childhood learning center for pre-kindergarten through first-grade students.
Spectrum parent Alisa Clegg had planned to give a PowerPoint presentation in support of the original boundary plan, but instead said that she was satisfied with the fifth option.
“I love it,” she said after the vote. “I think it’s perfect ... I like the number of kids next year at both schools. I specifically like that they didn’t separate siblings.”
Bing Zhao was not as pleased.
“That was ridiculous,” he said. “(It’s) a totally new option we never heard about.”