Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Why a study to close an elementary building?
Over the last seven years the Muscatine Community School District’s enrollment has dropped an average of 43 students a year, or about the enrollment of one our elementary buildings. The number of births to Muscatine residents has been declining from 653 in 2001 to 504 in 2014. Those numbers directly relate to incoming Kindergarten students.
The Muscatine Community School District’s state funding is determined by student enrollment. The district resources for instruction and building upkeep and improvement need to align with enrollment numbers. The more buildings to maintain limits the money available for teaching and learning.
Why is Washington Elementary being studied?
Washington Elementary is being considered due to the drop in enrollment for that attendance center. Not long ago Washington had an enrollment of nearly 400 students. Today that number is closer to 275. In addition, the building will need substantial improvements in heating and air conditioning, window replacement, mortar repair and drainage improvement.
Is Colorado Elementary also being studied?
Colorado Elementary is not being studied and there is no plan to begin such a study that would close Colorado Elementary.
Have employees already been “pink slipped?”
There have been no employees that have been notified of termination. The plan, if Washington were to close, is for the district to work with the unions to ensure our employees are re-located to other jobs in the district.
The Jefferson Elementary attendance area is large enough to warrant a new facility. In addition, the district needs to maintain sound and effective school buildings to avoid a facility crises in the future. The potential closing of an elementary is not the sign of a declining district, but a response to best use resources to right size our schools to our enrollment.
The district is planning times for parents and community members to have the opportunity to be kept informed of the progress of the study. The first will be January 7th at the Central Middle School Auditorium at 6pm.
When will a final decision be made?
The timeline is to have the study completed with a recommendation made to the board by early March of 2016.
If Washington Elementary were to close, the district will make every effort to make sure the receiving schools do not become burdened with larger class sizes. In fact, if a building were to increase from two sections to three sections, class sizes may be reduced.
The district has an in-district transfer request procedure and parents would have option to make a request for a different school assignment.
The district has an obligation to help maintain the integrity of the neighborhood. All efforts would be made to insure the building would not become an eyesore or a detriment to the property owners in the area. There has been no plans made as it is still undecided if the building will be closed.