A reorganization plan for the upcoming school year was reviewed by the Washington School Board Wednesday night.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer went through the plan school by school, explaining program changes due to space constraints and other needs.
The reorganization follows voter rejection of a $65 million bond issue for new construction and building improvements in April.
The bond issue included a 46-cent property tax increase. If Prop I had passed, the district planned to build a new elementary school, middle school and early childhood center, as well as renovate another building for an alternative education site, and make technology improvements districtwide.
VanLeer said while some of the changes being made would still of had to be done even if the bond issue passed because of the time involved in construction and renovation, the district may have held off on others knowing a “fix” was coming.
The uncertainty of what the future holds, means the district has to act now, she said.
VanLeer also said if another bond issue fails, the district will be forced to make more drastic changes — meaning program cuts. A preliminary list of possible reductions was presented to the board Wednesday night as well.
Changes being implement for next year are as follows:
Clearview Elementary — Preschool has been discontinued due to space constraints and speech services will continue to be offered in a closet and music classes will remain in the cafeteria, VanLeer said.
The school also has no wireless infrastructure or a complete computer lab.
Marthasville Elementary — Three modular trailers will be utilized for next year. The district is currently out to bid on the trailers. Installation is expected to be complete by Sept. 15.
“We are totally out of space at Marthasville,” VanLeer told the board.
Administrators are still reviewing what classes will be held in the trailers. VanLeer said the principal has recommended music, the library and possibly some special services and art be housed in the trailers, but more analysis is needed.
VanLeer said the trailers will likely be used for the next three years and beyond if a bond issue fails again.
The modular trailers to be leased will be air-conditioned, but will not have bathrooms.
The trailers will be installed where the basketball courts are now located.
In addition to the current space constraints, VanLeer noted the school has no wireless infrastructure or a computer lab.
South Point Elementary — Three modular trailers also will be leased at this school, and installation is expected by Sept. 15.
“The fifth-grade classes will be coming out of the basement and will go into the modular classrooms,” VanLeer said. “I’ve actually heard people say the trailers are at least better than the basement, but really, that’s sad. Our kids deserve better.”
VanLeer said the trailers will be air-conditioned, but will not have bathrooms which will be disruptive for classroom instruction.
The basement space at South Point will be used intermittently for resource assistance and services, she said.
South Point, which is slated to be closed once a new elementary school is built, is one of three district buildings without HVAC. It also has been placed in the new federal floodplain map.
To meet city code, the trailers will be installed on the far west parking lot near the older part of the building.
VanLeer said the special education transition room at South Point also is being moved to Washington West Elementary.
Washington West Elementary — The preschool class will be moved out of the building and into the existing modular trailers being utilized by the early childhood special education program, VanLeer said.
“With that move there is no more space in those six trailers,” she said.
The gifted elementary education program, also known as Challenge, will be relocated to the west wing at Washington High School. Letters will be coming soon to those families explaining how drop-off and pickup will work at that site, VanLeer said.
“Challenge will have a large classroom in that wing and they will be near the administration office. We hated to move it, but there is simply no room at Washington West,” she said. “We will keep the kids separate from the high school students.”
Music classes at Washington West will remain in the guidance office next year.
Augusta Elementary — No major changes are planned, VanLeer said, but the building is not air-conditioned and there is no wireless infrastructure or computer lab at the school. Window units will be used to cool the school.
Fifth Street Elementary — VanLeer said major changes are planned, but the school lacks air-conditioning, adeqate storage and the building is in need of major renovation. This is another building slated to be closed if a new elementary school is ever built.
Window units are being used to cool the school.
Campbellton and Labadie Elementary — A preschool classroom will be added at both sites in the coming school year because the buildings have the needed space, VanLeer said.
However, neither school has wireless infrastructure. Both have a computer lab.
VanLeer said enrollment continues to drop at Labadie and the district is exploring a different utilization of that building in the future.
“I’m not ready to say too much now, but we might pilot a new program with a creative curriculum there,” she said.
Washington Middle School — The special education transition room is being relocated to the middle school. To accommodate that program the health education class will have to meet in the consumer science kitchen or relocated to a common area in the school, VanLeer said.
“Teachers will be sharing prep hour space,” she added. “Literally all space, including closets and lounges, is used, all day, every hour. There is no room at this school.”
Washington High School — VanLeer said no home track meets will be held in the coming year. The activities director is working to secure other locations for the meets, including St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and Union High School.
The track is in such bad shape it’s a liability, the superintendent said. Those repairs, including the infrastructure issues and field repair, were all part of the failed bond issue.
VanLeer said the physics room in the west wing also is being relocated to make room for the Challenge program.
Additionally, the Missouri Options program is tenatively scheduled to move from the Four Rives Career Center into the high school.
The high school building also lacks wireless infrastructure.
VanLeer said technology needs districtwide would have been addressed in the bond issue and she has real concerns on how to meet those needs next year and beyond. She said new state standards and assessments will require the use of technology so the district will have to make the improvements.