Education -- Challenges and Opportunities

Local public schools play a significant role in the quality of life, character, and civic involvement of a community. A school district’s main mission is to educate the children of a local community. Schools strive to develop a passion for learning, as well as to create a safe and encouraging environment for students to further develop skills required for learning.  Schools provide vital tools, guidance, and inspiration for children, thus providing them the ability to shape their futures. Each school district is asked to provide both a basic level of education as well as meet all special needs of the student body.

Schools play a vital role in civic involvement, and include participation from students, teachers, administrative staff, parents, and volunteers, many of which reside within the local community.

Schools are often the first item of discussion when homebuyers are examining new areas. Property values also are typically affected by the quality of the local school district. Local school districts that perform well attract parents seeking high quality public schools, and typically increase home prices and assessed values.

Specific indicators in this section include:

  • Student-Teacher Ratio
  • Graduation Rates
  • % of Students above/Below the State Average for Math and Reading
  • Per Pupil Spending
  • School Quality

Today

Olathe has a very favorable student to teacher ratio of 1:15. This is lower than the national average of 1:17, and considerably lower than the surveyed community with the highest ratio. Olathe also has a favorable graduation rate of 94.2%. This is significantly higher than the national average of 85% and the state average of 75%. Olathe students have scored well above the state average on achievement tests, including a reading proficiency score of 92.5% in 2009 [national adequate yearly progress (AYP) target 76.7] and math proficiency score of 92.2% (AYP target of 70.5). The average ACT score for 2009 was 23.3, higher than both the state and national averages.

Per pupil spending in Olathe is $5,843 and very consistent with that of other communities. However, it is significantly less than the national average of $8,701.

Residents of Olathe have enjoyed Johnson County’s focus on academic excellence. Educated residents, both children and adults, create a solid foundation for community growth, safe and prosperous cities, and diverse creativity. Increasingly, job creation is shifting to the high technology and service industries that demand more highly skilled and creative workers. Lifelong learning opportunities are important to maintaining productivity and competitiveness of individuals and communities in the global marketplace. Of counties in the United States with populations above 250,000, Johnson County ranks first in percent of adults with at least a high school education, sixth in percent with at least a bachelor’s degree, and 16th in percent with a graduate or professional degree. Nearly 96% of Johnson County residents 25 years or older have earned at least a high school diploma, 51% have a bachelor’s degree, and 17% have earned a graduate or professional degree.

In general, it can be said that Olathe has a high quality school system with high graduation rates and a low student to teacher ratio. The Olathe School District was recently listed as one of the top 25 places to live and go to school by Relocate America, and has received the Standard and Poor’s top district efficiency award. Overall, education in Olathe remains a strong quality of life attribute.

In the Future

Principles and polices found in PlanOlathe underline the need for a high performing school system that will help make the community more competitive in the regional economy. The anticipated future land use pattern integrates educational facilities into the community by strategically locating schools relative to housing, rapid transit routes, and civic amenities. PlanOlathe calls for strong partnerships between the school district and other public and private entities through shared-use or
joint facilities, so that educational services can be provided as efficiently as possible.