I hope the last blog piqued your curiosity about new construction and district growth proposals on the table.
What might some of our building configurations look like in the future? One of the options presented by DRA puts a Grade 2 to 5 school on the Todaro property, neighboring Marathon Elementary School, which sits on the Irvine property.
The sketch—by NO means an architectural drawing!—looks like this:
According to DRA, there is also the opportunity to construct two schools on the same property, a Grade 2-3 school and a Grade 4-5 school; the illustration of that is below.
As I noted in my first blog entry in this series, these are not carved-in-stone options, but, DRA—and we! —think they’re good ones. What makes them good?
A 2-5 school under one roof allows us to consolidate services. Not only does this save money on personnel, but it also affords us to build better programs, targeted for specific student populations, which would be financially precluded otherwise.
Further exciting would be the opportunities to have our teachers engage in professional learning that was not just horizontal—meaning across the grade level, but also vertical. If the 2-5 curricula could be addressed in vertical professional learning groups of teachers, well, that would help teachers to better understand where students have been and where they’re going.
A 2-5 School next to Marathon also allows us to streamline busing services into two tiers (or two runs) of busing, as opposed to the three tiers we have now: HHS and HMS are the first run, Hopkins second, and Marathon and Elmwood are third. Eliminating a whole middle tier of busing saves money, and makes it a little more convenient for families to get their K-5 children on the school bus—one stop shopping (or one stop bus boarding! J).
Expanding the Irvine Todaro property would also allow for the building of another bus lot. My guess is that as you’re reading that, you’re thinking, “Did she just say another bus lot?” Yes, yes I did. The bus lot that exists now behind the high school could become student parking exclusively, which is a whole lot safer than kids speeding along the Loop Road to get to J and K lots, even while their peers are walking along that same stretch of road. If you haven’t tried parking at our high school recently, you should be aware that spaces are at a premium! In essence, a new bus lot would expand HHS parking and increase safety for our student drivers and walkers.
Surely some of you must be concerned about the creation of a mega school. What would happen to our small-town feel? Essentially as designed by DRA, the mega school would have a shared core; that is, a shared cafeteria, gym, and office spaces. After that, grades 2 and 3 would be housed in a “school within a school,” and so too would grades 4 and 5. This configuration maintains the smaller feel of the school, even within a much larger structure. If people need a visual, it might be like physically gluing together Elmwood and Hopkins, but having each school still function as its sort of own institution.
Maybe you’re also reading this and thinking, “So is this a done deal? Has the school district leadership team made up its mind that this is THE model? The answer is no. In fact, we are hoping to establish a Criteria Working Group (CWG) to determine what the community would like to learn as we embark upon district expansion.
If we do establish a Criteria Working Group, we will be seeking participation soon. Keep an eye out for that!
It’s so exciting that the growth in our community is propelling us to re-examine our schools’ physical plants and programming! We have a lot of work ahead and a lot to celebrate!
- Building Proposals