Fort Smith to close Trusty Elementary at end of 2023-2024 school year

Low enrollment, building dilapidation cited

Trusty Elementary School in Fort Smith Arkansas. (Photo Courtesy Fort Smith School District)
Trusty Elementary School in Fort Smith Arkansas. (Photo Courtesy Fort Smith School District)

FORT SMITH -- The School District has announced it will close Trusty Elementary School in 2024 due to low enrollment and a dilapidated building.

The district announced on its website the school will close May 31, with the outgoing fifth-graders going to middle school and the roughly 60 elementary students moving to neighboring schools.

Trusty kindergarten and first-graders already transitioned to Morrison Elementary School for the 2023-2024 school year.

The closing was suggested by Corgan, a Chicago-based architectural firm the district hired in 2018 to do a facility assessment as part of the district's five-year plan.

The district's website said Corgan focused its assessments strictly on facility conditions and not educational performance. It identified Trusty Elementary only had 22% of its remaining facility life and additional district data indicated enrollment at Trusty would significantly drop over the next five years.

At the School Board's meeting Nov. 13, district administration personnel presented the board with attendance boundary considerations for the remaining Trusty students.

These options include adjusting Howard and Morrison Elementary lines to match the existing middle school boundary; extending the Howard Elementary boundary line farther north beyond the existing middle school attendance boundary line; and adjusting the Howard and Morrison Elementary lines to match the existing middle school boundary lines. It also proposes to adjust the Tilles Elementary boundaries farther northwest to cover the neighborhood east of Midland Boulevard and 11th Street, and extend the Tilles boundary line to the south of Rogers Avenue.

The district will have several public input meetings over the next two weeks to discuss the options. The meetings will be today at Tilles Elementary, Tuesday at Morrison Elementary and Dec. 14 at Trusty Elementary. All locations have two meeting times: from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The district released a list of frequently asked questions, which states attendance area rezoning is the process of adjusting the geographic boundaries that determine which school a student attends. It said school rezoning typically occurs to balance student enrollment, optimize facility use, accommodate population changes or address other educational needs.

The district will make another presentation to the School Board at its Jan. 22 meeting, during which it's anticipated that the board will provide direction to staff based on the proposal information and community feedback.

Once the School Board determines the best option, the district will establish the attendance area boundaries. Trusty Elementary families who want to participate in the district's Attendance Area Exception program will then be able to work with the district's Student Services Department and submit an application beginning March 25.

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