Public meeting set on Dist. 518 projectsWORTHINGTON — District 518 school board members will answer questions about a series of proposed district wide improvements during a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at Worthington High School.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — District 518 school board members will answer questions about a series of proposed district wide improvements during a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at Worthington High School.
Topics of discussion will include the proposed addition to the middle school and other options for dealing with enrollment increases in the district.
Regardless of what action is ultimately taken, “I think it’s been the priority of this board to keep low class sizes for kids so they can learn at their full potential,” Superintendent John Landgaard said.
The board met in special session Monday to discuss those options and anticipate questions the community might have about the proposed projects — a roughly $3.4 million expansion to the middle school, about $8.4 million in updates to the high school and middle school ventilation systems, and an estimated $1.9 million in other improvements, many of them designed to make the district more energy efficient.
Options for dealing with enrollment increases include the addition of eight classrooms at Prairie Elementary or at the middle school, the lease or purchase of other facilities in the community for classroom space, the construction of pre-school/kindergarten center, the construction of a separate facility or use of portable classrooms.
Several factors regarding the changes in enrollment must also be considered, board members said.
The increase could be temporary or permanent; Landgaard reported that numbers are expected to stabilize or even decrease as early as the 2012 school year, though the district saw an increase of about 60 students this year and about 30 more are expected in the fall.
“If we go ahead and add onto the middle school and enrollment does not increase, what are we going to do with that extra space?” questioned board member Lori Dudley as the board brainstormed possible concerns from the public standpoint.
The space could be easily used by other district programs, such as community education, others responded.
The board must also consider costs that would come with the construction of a new building or remodeling of an existing one: beyond simple construction costs, such a measure could increase transportation costs or require increased staff.
“Any option other than adding onto one of our buildings are going to increase our costs dramatically,” Landgaard said. An addition to Prairie would “mean you really have three separate construction projects at one facility,” he explained.
“I think it would make the most sense to add on to one of the other (buildings),” Lorenz added.
The board has not yet made any decisions regarding the possibility of moving fifth-graders to the middle school, though that will also likely be a topic at the Aug. 27 meeting.
“What’s going on with fifth-grade education is already similar to what’s going on in the middle school,” said board member Steve Schnieder. “You’re always going to have that gap in development, no matter what,” he said, referring to the difference between fifth- and eighth-graders.