This is Karen W.’s follow-up to her earlier post on our school district’s efforts to develop a Facilities Master Plan.
I attended the district Master Planning Workshop on Monday. I estimate attendance at about eighty or so, including district personnel.
Sam Johnson and Barbara Meek from BLDD Architects were back again to provide an overview of the facilities planning process and to present eight building scenarios.
The materials presented at the workshop are available on the ICCSD website here. The eight proposed scenarios are available here and contain details about proposed renovations, additions, building capacity, and cost. Note that there is no indication in the documents, and no discussion at the workshop, about where new buildings would be constructed.
Status Quo—Minimum Maintenance and Code Compliance. Continue to use existing buildings as is.
Scenario 1—Original Proposed Plan. Build 3 new 500 seat elementary schools; additions to 9 elementary schools (multipurpose rooms plus 100 new seats at Penn); 220 new seats at NCJHS; and a new 1000 seat high school.
Scenario 2—Enhanced District Plan. Build 3 new 500 seat elementary schools; additions to 9 elementary schools (multipurpose rooms plus 150 new seats at Kirkwood, 150 new seats at Lemme, 250 new seats at Longfellow, 100 new seats at Penn, 250 new seats at Shimek, and 150 new seats at Twain); additions at all 3 JHS adding a total of 575 new seats; additions at City HS to add 300 new seats; and a new 1200 seat high school. Hills, Hoover, and Lincoln would be closed.
Scenario 3—Minimize New Construction. Realign to K-5 and 6-8 schools. Build 2 new 500 seat elementary school; multipurpose room additions plus 150 new seats at Penn; a new 900 seat JHS and additions at all 3 existing JHS adding a total of 575 seats; and additions at City HS (adding 784 new seats) and West HS (adding 690 new seats). Hoover would be closed. [Note: not shown on the plan but announced at the workshop—City HS expansion requires closing of Hoover, loss of Hoover requires one more new elementary].
Scenario 4—K-5 Feeder Alignment. Realign to K-5 and 6-8 schools. Build 1 new 500 seat elementary school; multipurpose room additions plus 150 new seats at Penn; additions at all 3 JHS adding a total of 1550 new seats (each JHS would have 1236 seats); and a new 1500 seat high school.
Scenario 5—K-6 Feeder Alignment. Close Hills, Hoover, Lincoln, and Mann. Build 3 new 500 seat elementary schools; additions to 8 schools (multipurpose rooms plus 200 new seats at Kirkwood, 150 new seats at Lemme, 150 new seats at Longfellow, 100 new seats at Penn, 200 new seats at Shimek, 200 new seats at Twain, 200 new seats at Weber, and 75 new seats at Wickham); 290 new seats at NCJHS; and a new 1500 seat high school.
Scenario 6—7-9, 10-12 Alignment. Realign to 7-9 and 10-12 schools. Build 2 new 500 seat elementary schools; multipurpose room additions plus 150 new seats at Borlaug, 150 new seats at Garner, 100 new seats at Penn, 150 new seats at Van Allen, 150 new seats at Weber, and 150 new seats at Wickham; a new 900 seat JHS and additions at all 3 existing JHS adding a total of 575 seats; and 300 new seats at City.
Scenario 7—Proposed Plan, New Alignment. Realign to K-5 and 6-8 schools. Build 3 new 500 seat elementary schools; additions to 6 elementary schools (multipurpose rooms plus 100 new seats at Penn); a new 900 seat JHS and additions at all 3 existing JHS adding a total of 575 seats; a new 1200 seat high school; and 300 new seats at City HS. Hills, Hoover, and Mann would be closed.
Format. Participants were assertive about asking questions and making comments to the whole group during the BLDD presentation as well as editorializing when reporting results of work activities to the whole group. There were five school board members and a number of district administrators in attendance. Hopefully they were listening.
Larger schools. There was a definite nudge towards accepting larger schools in the information presented—larger schools more cost efficient per pupil (how much so disputed by a participant), no affect on student achievement, in line with current school design trends, and size of schools in similarly sized districts. Scenario 5 proposes 1236 seat junior high schools. Scenario 6 would have 3 elementary schools over 600 seats, and 4 more at or over 500 seats. Scenario 3 would put the high schools over 2000 seats each.
Grade realignment. Perhaps also a nudge towards accepting grade realignments: one of the work activities asked about 7-8 junior high schools and four of the scenarios propose grade realignments to either K-5, 6-8 schools or 7-9, 10-12 schools.
It seemed to me that the grade realignment proposals were well received, although I am personally opposed. I have heard recently that the district had multiage classrooms for years, not for pedagogical reasons, but to save money and that they are being discontinued because they don’t work well with the district’s choice of curricular materials. If the grade realignment proposals are driven largely by educational programming or educational philosophy, that case wasn’t made at the workshop. That is, there was no explanation how a 6-8 middle school, for example, would better deliver STEM programs, support or improve other educational programming, help achieve district diversity goals, or ease disciplinary issues.
Magnet programs. In the same vein, there was no explanation of how any of the scenarios might accommodate magnet programs, even though the Steering Committee planning principles state “students should have a choice to attend program-themed schools (magnet schools) or neighborhood schools.” If closed schools will be reopened as magnet schools, that may (or may not!) change resistance to the proposals and magnet school programs may change the educational adequacy scores of the schools housing them.
General trends. There was a lot of resistance to closing elementary schools (although much less resistance to closing just Hoover). Almost every table reported that building standards should be prospective and not be used to close smaller neighborhood schools. There was also a general (but certainly not unanimous) consensus that there should be three junior high schools feeding into three comprehensive high schools (no split feeders).
Community support. The construction costs for scenarios 1-7 range from 215 million to 255 million dollars, which means that the district will have to get one or more general obligation bond initiatives passed to move forward. The RPS approval vote was only the beginning. The school board and the district administration still have a huge job ahead in getting sufficient community consensus about not only the building scenarios, but also the location of new buildings, and the timing of new construction, additions, and upgrading current facilities.