There will be a Board of Directors Work Session on December 9th, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Administration Office to discuss the overcrowding issues within the district. The public is welcome to attend.
The Administration Office will be closed the week of December 23rd - December 27th. We will reopen with regular business hours on December 30th.
Happy Fall Everyone!
We had a great opening to the 2013-14 school year. I am pleased with the work students and staff are doing to ensure your children learn at high levels. Our secondary school had conferences in mid-October and the elementary schools will have conferences just before Thanksgiving.
You may be aware we have experienced continued enrollment growth over the past three years, and as a result, we are becoming severely overcrowded at Long Beach Elementary and Hilltop. We purchased a two classroom modular unit for Long Beach Elementary last year, and the school is still in need of additional space. Ocean Park has some room for growth, but it is becoming limited. When this year’s small senior class graduates, it will be replaced with a larger freshman class, and Hilltop will not have enough classrooms to accommodate the additional enrollment. I am including the graph below to illustrate our growth pattern over the last several years. The total growth over this period is 71 Full Time Equivalent (FTE). FTE is defined as a student enrolled full time in our school district. We have other students enrolled part time. They may be taking several classes at a college, or for other reasons, we are not able to count them as full time. Our actual number of students will always be somewhat higher than our FTE count. While it is difficult to estimate enrollment patterns, we believe the trend is toward some growth. As a consequence, we must develop a solution to the overcrowding before the 2014/2015 school year starts. The district will still need additional classroom space even if the student growth levels off.
There are several options the Board may consider to address the issue for next year:
1. Move 6th grade to Hilltop and purchase additional modular units.
Advantages include creating additional classroom space that is less expensive than “stick” construction.
Disadvantages include securing permission from the city/county to place buildings on particular sites conducive to our needs, and the purchase of extra classroom space when we have it available at Black Lake.
2. Move the district office elsewhere to create two classrooms for Long Beach Elementary
Advantages include creating a space for Long Beach Elementary that is located near the school and the building could accommodate two classroom spaces with some modification to the building. (note – the Early Childhood Center is not available as an option)
Disadvantages include having additional space not connected to the main building and finding a new and suitable space for the district office to be relocated.
3. Increase the number of classrooms used at Black Lake.
Black Lake has been in continuous use by students, Boys and Girls Club, and the community. The district maintains the building, heats it, maintains the roof, and generally sees to its upkeep. Career and Technical Education (CTE) utilizes the shop and several classrooms, while high school physical education classes, wrestling, basketball and volleyball use the gymnasium. The cafeteria is used by the wrestling team and cheerleaders, as well as other school and community events. High school health is taught in another classroom.
Black Lake Options:
a. Move several teachers (non “lab” type classes) from the high school to Black Lake. This will provide additional space at Hilltop.
Advantages include an economical solution to our issue.
Disadvantages include increasing the number of students having to walk back and forth between the two secondary schools. It also further divides the high school staff, isolating faculty.
b. Locate science, math, and art classrooms in the southeast wing where CTE is now located to create a science, technology, engineering, art, math (STEAM) school, within a school.
Advantages include creating a somewhat self-contained program that can capture the essence of a growing trend in education for a blended and articulated program.
Disadvantages include the cost of converting several rooms to science and art labs/rooms. As mentioned above, there will be increased numbers of students required to walk back and forth between the two secondary buildings and the staff will be further divided.
c. Locate the high school back at Black Lake (grades 9-12).
Advantages include ending the need for students to walk back and forth between the two buildings. All (or nearly) of their classes will be located at Black Lake. The science labs and art rooms are already in existence (no need for costly re-model) and the district would have additional space should the enrollment continue to grow.
Disadvantages include the cost to update the building (new electrical transformers, electrical and technology wiring upgrades, perhaps some work on insulation and heating systems), and some extra staff required.
d. In combination with option “C” above, move 6th grade students to Hilltop to create the more traditional middle school configuration.
Advantages include separating the middle and high school, allowing each school to develop its own identity, with flexibility to create programs and schedules appropriate to the needs of students, providing 6th grade students with teachers trained in specific curricular areas (e.g. math), and creating additional space at the elementary level with the move of 6th grade students to the middle school.
Disadvantages include the possibility of increased transportation costs.
4. Combine several options from above.
We have started the process of estimating the costs associated with the options. Moving the rest of the high school to Black Lake will require the Board to authorize a Capital Projects levy, in addition to the Maintenance and Operations and Technology levies the Board will consider for election this coming February. We must notify the county of our decision by December 27th. Should the Board authorize the Capital Projects levy, and it passes, our intention is to complete the work this spring and summer and be ready for the fall.