Capital Project Planning Update
The Board of Education on Tuesday, Oct. 1 narrowed down potential school configuration options following a year-long outside study, community and staff forums, Thoughtexchanges and a staff survey.
All three of the possible options under consideration continue five neighborhood elementary schools and a grade 9-12 high school. Improving the experience of students in middle-level grades emerged as a key area of focus in the Board’s discussions.
The three options that the Board advanced for further investigation are:
- The current configuration of K-5 elementary schools and two, grade 6-8 middle schools;
- A grade 5-6 school and a grade 7-8 school serving students districtwide; and
- A single district middle school
As the Board converged on these options, members also indicated:
- They want to explore how the district might incorporate prekindergarten into each of the potential configurations.
- The District Office should remain in a school regardless of which configuration is ultimately chosen.
A decision about school configuration is a key part of a broader capital project planning process. The district’s timeline calls a facilities proposal to go before district voters in December 2020 – a little more than a year from now.
The capital project will also include construction to meet growing enrollment, address basic infrastructure needs, and reflect the district’s program vision – especially the need for more open, flexible spaces that promote hands-on learning.
What happens next?
- District architects will develop the facilities/construction ramifications of each of three scenarios and report back to the Board.
- The Capital Project Community Advisory Committee will reconvene to begin discussing other aspects of each of the scenarios that need to be considered (e.g. fiscal impact, transportation, program, etc.)
- The committee will also discuss how to continue to most effectively engage the school community in this process.
Community & Staff Input
The Capital Project Community Advisory Committee worked closely last year with a district consultant whose study identified six configuration scenarios. The study was published in May.
Following the study, the district held three community forums over the summer, two staff forums this fall, two Thoughtexchanges, and a staff survey.
The three options were drawn from the study, as well as a list of approximately 20 additional scenarios and/or variations suggested by the community and staff. The consultant’s study included the current configuration and a grade 5-6 school and a grade 7-8 school as options. The single district middle school scenario was raised in the staff forums this fall, and received support in the subsequent staff survey.
In addition to the configuration options, all of the forums conducted over the past several months featured discussion about other facilities priorities and the future of academic programs.
Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra pointed to this discussion as he shared feedback from the forums. “Right now, we’re trying to fit current programing within the current buildings we have,” he said, quoting from a participant at the forums. “We need to do the opposite: what is the programming we want, and what has to happen to buildings to do that?”