|AN ORIGINAL RIDE—Briahna Hall, left, and Ripley Martin, right, had a unique way of traveling down South Maysville Street on stuffed animal scooters during the opening morning of Court Days Friday, Oct. 13. Photo by Brianna White. See story under community section on this page for details.
|LPC looks at shuffling school population
|By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
The school district’s Local Planning Committee (LPC) is considering a revision of the District Facilities Plan (DFP) that would turn Montgomery County Intermediate School into an elementary school.
MCIS and the other elementary schools would then house preschool through fifth grades. This would eliminate the need for an Early Learning Center. The ELC, located in the former Mt. Sterling Elementary School building, has been listed in the DFP as the top capital project facing the district, however.
This would require redistricting of the elementary schools.
Superintendent Matt Thompson told the Advocate this would be attempted as painlessly as possible by reviewing available data on school populations.
As part of the plan under consideration, the sixth grade would be moved to McNabb Middle School that has an open wing available for students. The school recently underwent a $14 million renovation.
All this could happen as soon as next school year, according to the discussion at an Oct. 12 LPC meeting. If not next year, the LPC was told the target would be the following year.
“The sooner, the better,” board of education chair and LPC member Alice Anderson said.
“It makes no sense to drag this on, it really doesn’t,” he said. “It’s not fair to MCIS, it’s not fair McNabb, it’s not fair to the preschool. Anything we want to do can’t be done until we make these changes.”
Thompson told the LPC that the changes won’t be easy considering the success MCIS has shown and the problems that come with redistricting.
“I think everybody last year kind of realized that we have to make some changes and they’re not changes everyone wants to make,” he said.
Last month, the school board requested that the LPC be reconvened to address what it views as inefficient use of space within the district. The Kentucky Dept. of Education (KDE) will not approve new construction or additions if space is already available.
Thompson said the district is in a dilemma where it can’t consider any new projects without first adjusting the school population or use of the buildings.
The matter is complicated by the fact that the district is facing projections of large student growth over the next several years, Thompson said.
He presented the LPC with a chart that projects that the district will undergo a 32.5 percent growth in student population, the ninth highest gain in the state, by 2040. The projections, compiled by the Kentucky Data Center at the University of Louisville, estimates student enrollment of 7,305 by 2040.
Another chart provided to the LPC shows total enrollment at each of the schools compared with capacity.
That chart shows that the ELC has an enrollment, as of Oct. 12, of 175 students with a capacity of 425, enrollment of 533 at Camargo Elementary with capacity of 948, enrollment of 682 at Mapleton Elementary with a capacity of 703, enrollment of 598 with capacity of 850 at Mt. Sterling Elementary, enrollment of 739 at MCIS with capacity of 775, enrollment of 662 at McNabb with capacity of 1,044 and enrollment of 1,323 with capacity of 1,344 at MCHS.
With the addition of the sixth grade at McNabb, the school may be over capacity, but not necessarily overcrowded, Thompson said.
He said there would also be savings in moving the fifth and sixth grade out of MCIS, which costs the district an extra $350,000 to $400,000 a year in transportation.
That savings would be offset by a need for an extra administrator, two to three teachers, furnishings and preschool playground equipment, among other things, the LPC was told.
Still, the district would be better served by converting MCIS into an elementary school than building a new elementary that would cost an estimated $18 million to $22 million, Thompson said.
The LPC approved a motion to submit a draft of the revised plan to the KDE. The LPC must meet again and hold another public forum before approving the required amendment to the DFP.
No one spoke at the forum scheduled after last week’s meeting.
The next meeting of the LPC was scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Clay Community Center.
The soonest the KDE could consider the revised DFP is Feb. 7, the LPC was told, which would make implementing the plan for next year difficult, but not impossible, facilitator Don Martin said. The district typically sets staffing allocations for the next school year in March.
The LPC, which includes parents, teachers, administrators and a school board member, is required to complete an updated DFP every four years.