Wright City R-II school district expects to run out of room at elementary school by 2025

By John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 6/26/23

Currently, East Elementary School is only for kindergartners and first graders while West Elementary handles second through fifth grade.

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Wright City R-II school district expects to run out of room at elementary school by 2025


A recent enrollment analysis conducted of the Wright City R-II School District indicates an elementary school will be over building capacity in three years. 

Conducted by RSP Associates, the enrollment analysis projects West Elementary School will be over building capacity starting in the 2025-2026 school year. If the district transitions to two kindergarten-through-fifth-grade buildings, they would be over building capacity in the 2026-2027 school year. 

East Elementary currently is for students in kindergarten and first grade, while West Elementary is currently for students in second through fifth grade. West Elementary’s capacity is 550 students and East Elementary’s capacity is 400 students. 

The analysis considered many factors, including current enrollment, population and development trends, past enrollment and change and potential growth. 

“Right now if it maintains the current configuration, West sees capacity challenges where East does not,” Ginna Wallace of RSP Associates said. “If there were two K-5 buildings, you could distribute that enrollment in a different way versus if it’s an addition at one of the elementary schools or even a third elementary school.” 

Wright City R-II Board President Austin Jones noted the challenges of transitioning to two kindergarten through fifth grade elementary schools. 

A majority of district properties are on the western side of the district. He questioned how the district would draw their boundaries for the two elementary schools. 

He also questioned when there would be enough children on the east side of the district to support a kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school at East Elementary. 

“That depends on the boundary of how far you move to the west,” Wallace said. 

Board Vice President Erin Williams wants to make sure the household income of each school is about the same if they transition to two kindergarten through fifth grade elementary schools.

“I don’t ever want to be in a situation where we have a building of have and have not,” Williams said. “So if that is a thought on boundarying our elementaries, my biggest concern would be making sure the income level is as even as we can get it between the two.” 

Board Member Heidi Box Halleman seconded Williams’ concern.

Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger noted the impact American Foods Group is having on the district. He noted while it is difficult to quantify the exact impact, there is optimism it will drive up the number of students. He also believes this will have a regional impact on other school districts. 

Wallace said the Wentzville School District is also expecting to grow from the jobs created by American Foods Group. She expects it to have a regional impact. 

Community member Frank Zykan, who ran for a school board seat during the last school board election, spoke during public comment about the district’s decision to reduce the number of classrooms as part of the East Elementary expansion. 

He noted the district originally planned to add eight classrooms at East Elementary but was eventually eliminated down to four additional classrooms in an effort to save on costs. Zykan said the estimated savings for the district was $1 million to $1.2 million. The district was able to find $15 million extra for the high school, $1.4 million extra for the architect and $3.5 million for the football stadium, Zykan said. They also received $2 million from American Foods Group for the football stadium. 

“The enrollment analysis was just completed and of course what they determined is we are going to be outspaced in our elementary schools in a couple of years,” Zykan said. “So just one of those situations where maybe we should have done this before we made all the expansion plans to have a better handle on what was needed and where and at what cost. Because I think we’re going to find ourselves going through this again here very shortly.”

Berger said the work RSP did on the enrollment analysis affirmed what the district had internally expected. 

“It gives us more confidence as we start to build out our master plan for facilities,” Berger said. “I think it was money well spent … Definitely is going to inform our master plan and definitely I think instilled a confidence in the board that we’re on the right track.” 

During his annual budget summary, Berger said the district has about $8 million available in the capital projects fund, which allows the district to make improvements to their sites or subsidize future projects. The district had $680,000 in the fund in 2021. The $8 million includes the $2 million from American Foods Group, which is earmarked to go towards the high school football stadium. 

“We know legally it’s not restricted,” Berger said.“The $2 million gift that was from AFG. But is it restricted? Yes, because where is it going? Towards the project. That was their intent and certainly we will follow through on that.”  

The R-II Board of Education did not take any action on the enrollment analysis at the June 8 meeting. 

wright city, school, district, r 2, elementary