School District 51 officials say they've been working non-stop to come up with a solution to overcrowding in their schools, ever since a school bond measure failed in November. Tuesday night, the committee leading that effort made its final report to the school board.
As they addressed the school board, committee members say they best thing they could come up with was a list of temporary fixes to the 9 schools in the district with the most immediate overcrowding problems. They say their findings are extremely frustrating but with the realities of funding cuts, the district's budget, and area growth, it's the best they could do.
The committee, made up of school principals, teachers, parents, and administrators, have spent the past three months looking for different solutions.
Members looked into leasing out empty spaces in the community, but say between the costs of leasing and renovating the space, making sure it met all school regulations, and figuring out how to transport students there, it's just not a cost effective option.
They say another possibility was switching to year-round school. But they say the costs of paying for more teachers, maintenance, and other things that year-round school would require isn't worth freeing up the space. They also say year-round school could inconvenience families if siblings are on different cycles, and that many of the school districts they studied that use year-round school say they're trying to get off of it.
Committee members told the board that their recommendations were only a temporary fix, that could be put into effect for the 2009-2010 school year. Both they and board members agree the only real solution to the overcrowding problem is to build new schools funded by a school bond.
"Hopefully something will change, but we may be looking at a couple years of school by school basis," said Leslie Kiesler, President of the District 51 School Board.
"I think it's inevitable, I think they have to," said Stacey Mascarenas, a member of the Overcrowding Commitee. "I don't think we're going to see it this November, but just given the numbers, just the high rate of overcapacity, we have to look at another school bond issue."
According to the district, 25 of its 38 schools are either at capacity or over capacity.
Some of the committee's short term recommendations included adding more modular classrooms, reorganizing space at some of the schools, and hiring more teachers to help make class sizes smaller. The district says it is also in talks with Mesa State to allow high school seniors in the Fast Track program to take classes on the college campus.
The committee's final recommendations to the board were:
Rim Rock Elementary
175 Students Over Capacity
-Move 5th grade to another district facility
-Add one more round for grades 1-4
-Build an addition or add modulars
Orchard Avenue Elementary
72 Students Over Capacity
-Use cottages for 2 additional classrooms
-Add 1 Teacher
43 Students Over Capacity
-Remove stage from lunchroom to add core space
102 Students Over Capacity
-Add a wet modular (modular with plumbing)
Rocky Mountain Elementary
68 Students Over Capacity
-Add instructional assistants as needed
Thunder Mountain Elementary
84 Students Over Capacity
-Rearrange existing space for 2 additional classrooms
-Add 2 teachers
-Add instructional assisstants as needed
Grand Mesa Middle
78 Students Over Capacity
-Rearrange student schedule to gain space
-Add 2 teachers to balance numbers
Mt. Garfield Middle
77 Students Over Capacity
-Add 1 teacher to balance numbers
Central High School
145 Students Over Capacity
-Expand core space including kitchen and cafeteria
-Add storage containers to grounds
-Can add up to 3 traveling teachers
-Expand school day
-Allow students to Fast Track for the full year by offering senior
required courses at Mesa State College