Public Meeting Agenda: March 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM - Committee of the Whole

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March 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM - Committee of the Whole Agenda

March 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM - Committee of the Whole
1. Public Comments on Agenda Items - This is the proper time for public questions and comments on agenda items only. Please make sure a request form is given to the Board Vice-President before the meeting begins.
Speaker(s):  Randy Coleman
Discussion:  Randy Coleman informed the public that this is the proper time for public questions and comments on agenda items only. Please make sure a request form is given to him before the meeting begins. No one had any comments.
2. Public Forum Elementary Facilities
Discussion:  Dr. Thompson shared that tonight members of the Strategic Action Planning committee team would be presenting the results of the research of this committee. To date this committee has involved 150 individuals of the community in creating this plan. The committee was directed to develop and implement plans to provide and maintain the facilities necessary to achieve our mission to be measurably among the best in the nation. The District Steering committee realized that we cannot meet this mission without facilities that will allow us to provide a rigorous curriculum and high-quality instruction and utilize 21st Century Tools. Two separate action plans were written – (1) Develop and implement a solution to long range physical plant needs for elementary/pre-school/ Sped facilities (2) Determine the most appropriate grade level configuration for implementation at a new or redesigned elementary facility or facilities. The Strategic Action Plan committee identified six key areas that needed to be researched (1) Building and staff efficiency (2) Class size and transportation (3) Safety and technology (4) Curriculum and instruction (5) School size and design and (6) Energy and cost efficiency. The action teams that researched these six key areas were comprised of a mixture of parents, community members, and school personnel so that they had diverse perspectives for each area researched. Dr. Thompson shared the following time-line for the project. In 2011-2012 - research and planning, will look at input and revise if needed. This could take several months before a recommendation is brought to the Board. In 2012-13 survey community to determine if we have community support. If we have community support in 2013-14 - Bond and 2014-2015 we would build or remodel. If we do not have community support in 2013-14 we would revise the plan and in 2014-15 do a second survey of the community. Dr. Thompson shared that a representative from the research teams would present information on the district's current reality. Betty Replogle, Principal at Paddock Lane and Stoddard spoke on current building and staff efficiency. Betty noted that class sizes are inequitable varying from 14 to 24 students at the same grade level. The demographics are not equal as special needs children are all located at Paddock Lane. Paddock Lane has 35% Sped and the other buildings are at 16%. Betty also noted that no elementary has a full-time administrator and several of the staff are shared among buildings such as counselor, librarian, music and only one full-time nurse. Expanded learning opportunities are limited, flexibility of scheduling is limited and specialization is limited due the this type of staffing. Safety recommendations of having monitored entrance is not met due to location of the office and staff being taken away from the monitor to perform other duties. Dr. Thompson shared that Theresa Smith was unable to be at the meeting and Betty will present the current reality on class size and transportation. Betty shared that we no longer have neighborhood schools and have not had them in last 4-5 years. Over 200 kids nearly 25% are transported to a school that is not in their neighborhood. Our students are not equally distributed over the city. Last year we had 80 kids that were moved to help balance class sizes or were moved to Paddock Lane for medical needs. Chief Lang, Chief of Police presented about current safety and technology. Chief Lang does our yearly safety audit and has noted our safety risk due to unsecured entrances and office location in the elementary buildings. Our secretaries are tasked at the elementary level with using a camera or mirror to control our entrances and sometimes they are distracted away from their desk and have very little time to monitor the entrance. Chief Lang also noted that not having a full-time administrator is also a safety concern as they are not available to make decisions when a safety issue arises. At the time these building were built most students walked to school and now most students are transported so the parking and loading areas are not designed for this, which causes safety issues. Our current buildings are not built to support 21st century learning. The infrastructure of concrete walls does not support the increase of technology. Connie Russell, Parent presented on current Curriculum and Instruction. The post world war design of the building is no longer adequate for 21st Century learning. The lack of space and wiring for technology does not allow for collaborative learning, research projects and flexible grouping. With the current configuration and staff, people strengths are spread out and we are unable to utilize these strengths. Instruction is limited with shared staff and the current configuration. Connie shared the example of Physical Education being held in the gym, which is also the cafeteria and the amount of lost time to reconfigure the gym before and after meals are served. There is a limit amount of inclusion and team teaching opportunities and common plan time. Dr. Thompson presented on the current school size and design. Our current facilities are in need of modernization and repair. Dr. Thompson noted cracked asbestos flooring, antiquated air handling systems and poor air quality, exposed wiring, inadequate heating and cooling. Our boiler system will need future repair or replacement. Our current facilities do not allow enough space for 21st century learning. The four buildings do not allow for equal distribution of our students, thus creating inequitable class sizes. Rich Hovendiek, Parent presented on the current reality of our energy and cost efficiency. When looking at our heating and cooling equipment it is not energy efficient and is in need of repair due to its age. While we have saved $123,000 per year in energy cost most of this has come from the high school. When they looked at the high school it is 13% more efficient per square foot than the elementary buildings. Without major renovations we would not be able to install cost effective equipment. Our current air flow system is underground in a tunnel, which has sewer running in it and conduit. This is not efficient and not safe. Dr. Thompson then asked the presenters to present the the research and best practices in each of their areas. Betty Replogle shared that the research and best practice for building and staff efficiency is based on one PK-5 or two grade level elementary buildings. This would allow for one full-time administrator in the building. Sped students would not have to be located in one building and could be served in the least restrictive environment and be with peers. All medications and medical needs could be addressed by the nurse. Our student to teacher ratios would be equitable. With this configuration we would be able to use staff and class offerings more effectively and efficiently. We would also be able to meet the safety recommendation of a secured entrance. Betty Replogle shared the we are currently transporting 80 students to schools that are not their normal attendance centers and one building PK -5 would make equitable class sizes and demographics. It would create an inclusive environment for all students regardless of academic ability, disability,medical or behavioral needs. It would also allow for flexible learning environment, team teaching and collaboration. Chief Lang shared that research and best practice for safety shows that one main entrance located next to the office for visual observation and supervision is best. With a new facility we could have better parking to allow for drop off and pick up of students. Also with a more modern facility it would allow for better electrical capacity for new technology. Improved air quality, temperature and lighting would improve safety also. Connie Russell shard that research and best practice for curriculum and instruction suggests one PK-5 building or two grade level elementary buildings. These configurations would allow for more learning spaces such as collaborative learning and flexible grouping. It would allow for more specialized instruction to use the strength of all staff to teach in their specialized areas. It would also allow for collaboration and team teaching. It would allow for more class offerings with all staff located in the same building. Dr. Thompson shared that research and best practices do not have conclusive results that show that students do better in a small school or large school. The one thing that the committee doing the research did learn is that it is important to limit the number of transitions between buildings, because student achievement has been shown to decrease during transition years. It also showed that the transition of several elementary building into one middle level building that these students experience the greatest achievement loss. The research also shows that the quality of the school's physical environment has a significant impact on student learning. The research supports that the classrooms needs to be flexible to allow for hands-on learning, technology, collaborative leaning opportunities, and differentiation. The committee also found that larger schools are more cost effective to build, maintain and operate. Rich Hovendiek shared that we can build more efficient buildings today that will utilize energy savings. Rich shared that to renovate all four buildings is estimated to cost $5,940, 786. To replace all four buildings would be $ 18,318,350. If we did replace all four this would not resolve some of the current issues we are facing. To consolidate four buildings to two sites at Lincoln and Paddock Lane would be $15,598,540. To consolidate four sites into one at Lincoln or Paddock Lane would be $14,748,284. Estimated cost for all new construction would be be $17,296,593. Rich reminded everyone that these are estimates and do not include land acquisition, temporary classrooms or equipment. Dr. Thompson shared that there is a mismatch between our reality and research and best practice. The recommendation for Beatrice Public Schools is one PK-5 building, which houses all children of the same grade level in the same building, separating various grade levels into pods or wings. Dr. Thompson opened up the meeting for comments or questions from those attending. No one spoke at this time. Dr. Thompson handed out a pamphlet with the main points and asked those attending to complete a paper or survey or complete it on-line at www.beatricepublicschools.org.
3. Public Comments - This is the proper time for public questions and comments on any topic. Please make sure a request form is given to the Board Vice-President before the meeting begins.
Speaker(s):  Randy Coleman
Discussion:  Randy Coleman thanked the presenters and members of the committee for their work. Randy stated that this is the proper time for public questions and comments on any topic. He asked that they please make sure a request form is given to him before the meeting begins. No one from the public had any comments. Steve Winter asked at what point would you get to what would be done with current facilities, where would we build, what would city allow us to do, plan for land acquisition, buildings being demolished, furniture and equipment. Dr. Lopes shared that they will have more solid numbers by the next session that will be presented to the Board They would like to have a complete recommendation for the Board in the fall. They will also have an outside company survey the public for their support. It will be 6-8 months until we have solid numbers and know if we have community support to move forward. Steve also wondered if the Alternative School could move to one of the elementary buildings. Dr. Lopez responded that this might be a possibility, but usually it is not cost effective to put high school students into an elementary building as the elementary building are designed for smaller people. Jim Spangler asked about transportation. With one building would we have to transport more students. Dr. Lopez responded that yes we would and this proposal would not be a cost savings, but it would be better for students academically. Jim also asked if we looked at two grade level buildings would it be PK-2 at one site and 3-5 at another. Dr. Lopez responded that if we build two we would look at growth trends, which right now are flat with the most potential for growth at the preschool level. We would be looking for a building design that would be very flexible for learning and growth. Jim also expressed that he is excited that a new configuration might also allow for an expanded curriculum into World Languages. Monte Lofing asked about all the special needs students being at Paddock Lane and the comment that students at Paddock Lane go to school in the real world. What does that mean? Didn't we at the district put all the special needs at Paddock Lane? Mrs. Replogle responded that students at Paddock Lane go to school with students that are handicapped, non-verbal deaf, blind or with sever allergies. This is the real world as all people are different and the students at Paddock Lane experience these differences everyday where the other students in the district are not in contact with special needs students on a day to day basis. Dr. Thompson responded to Monte's question about putting all special needs student at Paddock Lane that this was the most cost effective use of dollars and staff to place all special needs students in one building. Jon Zimmerman asked about staffing. Mrs. Replogle explained that York just went through this process and did not have to make any staffing changes as far as letting staff go or hiring more. They were just better able to utilize their staff. Steve Winter feels grade level building are a great plan as teachers have strengths, but might also have weaknesses and it would be great if someone could teach an area that the other teacher was weak in. The meeting adjourned at 8:15 PM
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