Grand Island Public Schools
123 South Webb Road
Grand Island, NE 68802
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Gates & Knickrehm Now Serving as Feeder Schools for Westridge Middle School


*Scroll down to read the FAQs*

June 2, 2022

Grand Island Public Schools is making some strategic adjustments to better champion student opportunities and teacher support.  Beginning in the upcoming ‘22 - ‘23 school year, two more schools — Gates & Knickrehm Elementary — will begin serving as “feeder” schools to Westridge Middle School, but only for incoming 6th graders.

Here is how the new transition will look:

  • Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year the ‘21-’22 5th graders from Gates Elementary will attend Westridge Middle School instead of Barr.

  • Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year the ‘21-’22 5th graders from Knickrehm will attend Westridge Middle School instead of Walnut.

To better prepare our students, teachers, staff, and buildings for a thriving ‘22-’23 school year, GIPS wants to ensure every student has the best opportunity possible to learn and grow.  In monitoring campus enrollments along with student registrations for the upcoming school year (which ended on May 15th) the district was clearly headed for another year of overcrowding at Barr and Walnut with Westridge under capacity as has been the trend in recent years. 

Additionally, when we considered all the insight we received from staff and building leaders, it became clear adding more “feeder” schools to Westridge would be the most proactive step we may take to begin balancing the enrollment across the three middle schools.  The Gates & Knickrehm adjustment will also help ensure the most equitable opportunities for students and better support our teachers.

Through this shift in feeder schools to Westridge, both quality learning and the highest level of safety can be provided for our students. 

“As Grand Island Public Schools grows, we’re very fortunate for the forethought of the Board of Education and the district.” Dr. Tawana Grover, GIPS Superintendent, explained, “Westridge was built, in part, to help accommodate the exciting growth we have.  The leadership at Westridge is well-equipped and offers a very positive and inclusive attitude and is ready to fully welcome the outstanding students from Gates and Knickrehm.

GIPS is proud of the high-quality experiences and choices offered across all three middle schools including financial literacy, fine arts, sports, and many clubs.  As we continue to thrive, we are grateful for all the opportunities our students have at the middle school level.” 

More details and FAQs about Gates and Knickrehm to Westridge transition may be found on this page below. 

GIPS would also like to invite incoming 6th Grade students and families from Gates and Knickrehm to an Open House at Westridge on Wednesday, June 8th, from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.  

Administration from Westridge, Gates, and Knickrehm will all be on-site ready to help facilitate the upcoming transition, provide support, give tours, and answer any questions. 

Throughout the last few years we have seen a growing trend of both Barr and Walnut Middle Schools eclipsing their building capacity while Westridge has been steadily operating at under capacity.  While each of these three schools are rich with student opportunities, we recognize that the best way to ensure greater equity within the district and to cultivate vibrant learning environments while maintaining optimum safety is to establish a better balance of enrollment between the three schools.

Below is a snapshot of middle school capacity levels and projected enrollment for the upcoming ‘22-’23 school year.

Allowing incoming 6th Grade Students from Gates and Knickrehm respectively to attend Westridge will help alleviate the overcrowding at the other two middle schools while granting Westridge an opportunity to occupy their building to its greater potential.  

“We are excited to welcome Gates and Knickrehm students and parents to Westridge!”  Mr. Brad Wolfe, Westridge Principal shared, “We’re also grateful to be a part of bringing greater equity and a more balanced student enrollment with GIPS middle schools.  Our team is here and ready to help the transition be as supportive as possible for families and students.  We want to see every student succeed and are looking forward to our community coming together in sharing Cougar pride as we start a new school year.  The future of Westridge is bright!”

While we are excited about the outlook of Middle School education in GIPS we also understand this may be a sensitive change.  Please know, the Westridge staff are excited to welcome you, Gates & Knickrehm students and families.  They are already working to make this adjustment as accommodating and exciting as possible. 

For more information, families may read the FAQs below or reach out to any of the building Principals at Westridge, Gates, or Knickrehm and are invited to attend the Westridge Open House next Wednesday, July 8th from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

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GATES & KNICKREHM TO WESTRIDGE FAQs

When is the Westridge Open House and Jumpstart6? 

There will be an Open House at Westridge Middle School on Wednesday, June 8th from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Incoming 6th Grade Students making the transition from Gates and Knickrehm Elementary to Westridge are invited to attend.  Students and families will have an opportunity to tour the building, see their classrooms, meet teachers, and gain insight to help prepare for the upcoming school year.

Administration from Westridge, Gates, and Knickrehm will all be on-site ready to help facilitate the upcoming transition, provide support, and answer any questions.  

Additionally, Westridge will be hosting Jumpstart6 on July 26 - 27.  That will be another free event incoming 6th Graders may attend to get more familiar with the school as they transition.  For questions about Jumpstart6, please reach out to Hannah Pogue: 

 

Can siblings who will be 7th or 8th graders at Walnut or Barr choose to move to Westridge? 

Yes.  Families that wish to transfer multiple students to Westridge may do so.  Please reach out to the Westridge front office and they will be happy to take care of making that transition as smooth as possible.  


Will siblings who will be in 7th or 8th grade at Walnut or Barr be required to move to Westridge? 

No, older sibling transfers will not be required.  7th & 8th grade siblings may remain at the campus of which they’re currently enrolled unless families would like to request a change.

HOW WILL THIS IMPACT enrollment at the three middle schools?

Throughout the last few years we have seen a growing trend of both Barr and Walnut Middle Schools eclipsing their building capacity while Westridge has been steadily operating at under capacity.  While each of these three schools are rich with student opportunities, we recognize that the best way to ensure greater equity within the district and to cultivate vibrant learning environments while maintaining optimum safety is to establish a better balance of enrollment between the three schools.

Below is a snapshot of middle school capacity levels and projected enrollment for the upcoming ‘22-’23 school year.

 

Allowing incoming 6th Grade Students from Gates and Knickrehm respectively to attend Westridge will help alleviate the overcrowding at the other two middle schools while granting Westridge an opportunity to occupy their building to its greater potential.  

Will my student be expected to return to Barr or Walnut in ‘23-’24?

Our plan is for Gates and Knickrehm Elementary to continue to be feeder schools for Westridge Middle School going forward.  We will not be requiring students to transfer back to other middle schools. 


Will busing be provided to accommodate these changes?

Yes.  GIPS will be providing busing to and from school and accommodate activities and extracurricular participation. 


When will parents receive updated information on bus routes?

August 2022.  Updated bus routes and transportation information is typically shared before the start of the new school year.  New accommodations for Westridge will be included with the district wide rollout. 


What support will be provided for English Language Learners and Special Education students at Westridge?

GIPS is committed to providing vibrant education, resources, and opportunities to all students within the district.  All English Language Learners and Special Education students that will be transitioning to Westridge Middle School will receive the same level of support and opportunity as they would at Barr or Walnut. 

Mr. Wolfe and the Westridge team will be reaching out to each family to help ensure a smooth transition for every student.  They will also be providing opportunities for families to visit the building and make connections with building administration and teachers.  

 

Will my students have the same “explore” classes? 

Our goal is match-up course requests as closely as possible for former Gates & Knickrehm 6th Graders that are already registered at Barr & Walnut.

Course requests for incoming students have already been shared with Westridge and the Westridge staff is working to match-up schedules.  Finalized schedules will be shared by early August.

If you have questions regarding your child’s schedule, please reach out to the Westridge team at:  308.385.5886.  


Why is this announcement being shared now? 

To better prepare our students, teachers, staff, and buildings for a thriving ‘22-’23 school year, we want to ensure every student has the best opportunity possible to learn and grow.  In recent years, Barr and Walnut have seen a continuous increase in enrollment.  In monitoring campus enrollments along with student registrations for the upcoming school year (which ended on May 15th) we were clearly headed for another year of overcrowding at Barr and Walnut with Westridge under capacity.

Additionally, when we considered all the insight we received from staff and campus leaders, adding more “feeder” schools to Westridge would be the most proactive step we may take to begin balancing the enrollment across the three middle schools.  The Gates & Knickrehm adjustment will also help ensure the most equitable opportunities for students, better support our teachers, while maintaining safety as one of our top priorities.

We are committed to providing individualized support to students and families with this transition.

 
What is the long term impact? 

Immediately this will make the biggest impact at the 6th grade level with a projected incoming 80+ 6th graders (combined from Gates & Knickrehm Elementary) now heading to Westridge.

Over the course of the next three years, Gates & Knickrehm serving as “feeder” schools to Westridge will better balance enrollment and opportunities across the three middle schools.  

 

Who may I reach out to with additional questions?

While we are excited about the outlook of Middle School education in GIPS we also understand this may be a sensitive change.  Please know, the Westridge staff are excited to welcome you, Gates & Knickrehm students and families.  They are already working to make this adjustment as accommodating and exciting as possible. 

If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Mr. Wolfe, Westridge Principal.  You’re also welcome to reach out to Mrs. Bentley at Knickrehm or Mr. Eckerman at Gates.  Please see the list below for upcoming office hours at each building:

  • Westridge Middle School - 308.385.5886
    Mr. Brad Wolfe,

  • Gates Elementary School - 308.385.5892 
    Mr. Joe Eckerman, jeckerman@gips.org

  • Knickrehm Elementary School - 308.385.5927
    Mrs. Opal Bentley,
Media Inquiries
Mitchell Roush , Marketing & Communications
308-385-5900 ex. 201127
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