Sunday, May 6, 2012

Growing without space . . .

Our staffing process to prepare for next year is more difficult and complex than in previous years.  Why?  One obvious place to point is budget, but the legislature didn't make additional cuts so it isn't related to revenue.  There are two reasons making this process more complex which increases the difficulty.

One is the decision we made last year to have student elective preferences at the secondary level be the main driver in the scheduling process.  This sounds like the right thing to do so why the problem?  In today's world of highly qualified teachers and with more and more students selecting electives in the traditional preparation for college tracks, matching elective teacher certification with student choice is not always possible.  We find ourselves moving teachers, shrinking program, and unless trends or the driver being student choice change, we will need to potentially look at replacing teachers.

The second and more difficult to work through is the fact that buildings are full while we are still growing.  We shared this with our community when we ran last year's unsuccessful bond measure and we also shared that without additional classroom space program would be impacted.  We are now seeing that happen at the elementary and middle school.  In the staffing process thus far we have made the following decisions.
  • Convert the computer labs at Rock Creek and Cedar River to classrooms. 
  • Starting the year with at least one grade level at each elementary capped forcing us to shuttle new students in that grade level to a school in a different attendance area.  We looked at the possibility for revising attendance areas to relieve this situation, but the options resulted in creating similar problems at other grade levels.
  • Moving the zero hour band program from Lake Wilderness because we the need the portable for a classroom.
  • Replacing an old double portable at Cedar River because we need another classroom.
  • We discussed not having any full day Kindergarten classes at Rock Creek, but decided that we could continue it for at least an additional year.  If growth patterns continue that may not be possible in the 2013-14 school year.
There may be others as the process continues for next year and there WILL be others if enrollment continues to increase.  Simply driving around our community one can see the new housing starts so there is a high likelihood for enrollment growth.  As we have done in the past, we continue to make choices to preserve program when possible.  That is more and more difficult, but we will not, as some would like us to do, make changes so that they are visible to parents and the community to support the need for a successful bond measure.  As class size starts to grow because we are running out of creative ways to make new home room classes, all of us will see and experience the need for space.  Maintaining our success and the status that we have gained in our community and in our state will become more difficult as we grow without space. 

We need to understand that this is about what young people in our community need and deserve to prepare for success in post high school learning and work.  The adults in the community hold the key to how well we meet those expectations. 

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