Capital Project Planning: Architect’s Update & Community Forum Report

Dear School Community Members,

As you know, we are planning a capital project proposal to bring to voters in December of this year. The last week was busy one in this area, with two community forums and an update from the architects at the Board of Education meeting. The sooner we reach a decision about our configuration the better, as this will provide more time to develop detailed information about costs, facilities improvements across the district and the academic program to share with the community. We are tentatively planning for a configuration decision in March.

The following update is part of our efforts to keep all stakeholders informed along the way.

Architects Presentation to Board of Education

Jim King from the architectural firm King+King provided an update to the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday night, Jan. 27. It’s clear that we are moving from a more conceptual and visioning phase of this process to a facilities planning stage that involves more specific capital ramifications and cost impacts. Mr. King walked the Board through the methodology that his team will use to establish cost estimates for different scenarios in the coming weeks.

These three configuration options under consideration are:

  • The current configuration of five K-5elementary schools, two 6-8 Middle Schools;
  • Five K-4 elementary schools, a grade 5-6 lower middle school, a grade 7-8 Upper Middle School; and
  • A single district grade 6-8 middle school

The Board is also considering if and how some level of prekindergarten programming might factor into our planning. Based on the cost of prekindergarten and the fact that many incoming students typically have a PreK experience, Board members also asked about the potential to offer PreK on a more limited basis, such as one or two classrooms in each elementary school.

Our construction managers will be on the Feb. 10 Board agenda to help in the process of narrowing down the options to one. A decision on this is tentatively planned for March.

Feedback from the Community Forums on School Configuration

Approximately 70 people total attended the community forums on school configuration that we held on Jan. 22 and 25. We very much appreciated the feedback and insight that participants provided.

We shared a summary of this feedback at our Jan. 27 Board meeting. View the summary here.

Feedback on the Configuration Options

Current configuration of five K-5elementary schools, two 6-8 Middle Schools

Some participants indicated that they prefer to keep the current configuration, citing walkability, neighborhood schools and past success. At least as many pointed out challenges and limitations with the current approach.

Five K-4 elementary schools, a grade 5-6 lower middle school, a grade 7-8 Upper Middle School

Considerably more participants expressed support for this option than any other, citing programmatic opportunities and bringing students together earlier. Some participants indicated concerns about the additional location transition, while a smaller number expressed their perspective that students would be OK, especially with the entire cohort coming together earlier.

A single district grade 6-8 middle school

Some participants expressed excitement about the possible academic and social benefits of bringing all students together at a single middle school, but at least as many expressed concerns that this building would be too large. There were also conversations about whether this option is still under consideration due to traffic/transportation concerns – is this approach viable?

Major Themes from the Forum Conversations

  • Improve Programs & Opportunities; Build Community; Student Growth & Support
  • Need More Information (Especially Program, Transportation, Cost)
  • Capacity for Students & Flexibility
  • Overall Capital Project Scope & Implementation (Impact on Students)
  • Address Inequities & Inconsistencies

Thank you for your attention to this information. We are focused on methodically evaluating the options before us so that we can make the best decisions for our students and community. We’ll continue to keep you informed along the way.

Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools