Carmel school board approves preferred redistricting plan, adds middle school choice for Cherry Tree, Clay Center students 

The Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees on Dec. 14 unanimously approved the preferred redistricting plan officially presented in November, adding a provision to allow students at Clay Center and Cherry Tree elementary schools to choose to attend Carmel Middle School instead of their assigned schools, which are Creekside and Clay middle schools, respectively.
Other exceptions to assigned schools include allowing next year’s fifth graders to finish at their current schools; allowing seventh and eighth graders to finish at their current schools; and allowing next year’s fifth graders from the current Orchard Park boundary to choose whether to attend Carmel, Clay Center, Forest Dale, Towne Meadow or Woodbrook elementary. Transportation will not be guaranteed for students who choose to attend a school other than their assigned campus. 
“I know that not everybody will be happy, but I think we did the best we could to come up with a plan that hopefully will last a long time,” School Board President Michael Kerschner said before calling the vote. 
The redistricting was needed because Orchard Park Elementary will close after the 2020-21 school year and Clay Center Elementary will open in the fall of 2021 5 miles to the northwest. Throughout the process, CCS and consultant Cooperative Strategies attempted to assign students to their nearest school, balance school facilities relative to capacity, keep neighborhoods together and transition entire elementary schools to the same middle school as often as possible. 
The preferred plan was developed after gathering feedback from parents, educators and other community members based on three proposed options. 
Under the preferred plan, capacities at middle schools are 102 percent at Clay, 98 percent at Creekside and 79 percent at Carmel. Those totals are without factoring in students who will be grandfathered or choose a school other than their assigned campus.

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