The school currently shares space, a principal and financial resources for elective classes with the Odyssey program, one of PPS's educational option programs.
The changes Superintendent Carole Smith has proposed and the School Board is slated to vote on tonight would move the 222 Odyssey students out of Hayhurst into the East Sylvan school building.
The Odyssey students will take their funding with them.
Five years from now, official PPS projections show Hayhurst will still not be back to full enrollment, with space for more than 80 additional students.
That’s significant for Hayhurst, where one in three children are poor enough to qualify for a free or reduced-priced lunch. Parents fear the school will be left facing a problem the boundary review was designed to correct.
The boundary review, particularly on the westside, was focused on reducing overcrowding. But the process was also about making sure schools—particularly ones that serve high-poverty populations—have enough students. That’s important, because school funding depends in part on how many students a school has.
Smith decided against recommending changes that would have moved the Ainsworth Spanish immersion program instead of Odyssey to East Sylvan after affluent Ainsworth parents raised a fuss.
“I should forget teaching my child to work hard and be a good student and get into a good college,” says Hayhurst mom Edie Van Ness. “I should just teach her to start throwing temper tantrums all the time. She’ll get what she wants. That’s what I’ve learned from this process.”
Smith met with School Board members before releasing her final recommendation. Van Ness blames those board members, not the superintendent.
“I blame the board,” says Van Ness. “I don’t blame Carole Smith. I’m going to remember them when they’re running for re-election.”
Smith's proposal does include changing the boundaries for Hayhurst to include neighborhoods currently assigned to Bridlemile, Rieke and Maplewood.
With Odyssey, Hayhurst currently has 499 students. Five years from now, PPS enrollment director Judy Brennan says she expects it to have 400 students.
That number "will be similar" to enrollments at neighboring schools, she says, even if the Hayhurst building is larger and could hold more students.