This will be the shortest piece mainly because not much was said and frankly, I am just taken aback that (1) this seems to be something that should have been done years (if not decades) ago and (2) some of this work HAS been done and I'm confused why it seems like it is starting from scratch.
Kathy Johnson of Facilities did this presentation. She talked about creating "trigger metrics" for opening/closing schools/criteria, when boundaries need to be changed, portable placement and capacity mitigation measures.
Well, first, yes it would be nice to have a set of criteria to use for opening and closing schools given that we have now had 3 rounds of closures (2 that actually occurred). And portables? This is the same group that said we couldn't afford them and that they weren't available even if we had the money. Do we have that many left over here and there to move around?
Michael asked her what the metrics would be founded on and Kathy said that they want the Board's feedback. Michael looked a little surprised like he expected them to come up with an initial list.
Mary Bass pointed out that we closed some schools because of portable use and now we are back to wanting to use them.
Slide 48 had Recommendations and some were interesting like using the U.S. Department of Education definitions of Heavily enrolled, Under enrolled, Over capacity and Over crowded. Some were just annoying like "create long range plans for opening schools to coincide with capital construction funding". Again, you think? and what new schools? Oh and "utilize the State Auditor's report guideline of no more than 10% of permanent capacity in portables. Once again, they cherry-pick the Auditor's report. It'd be nice if they acknowledged what they should do in ALL the report.
Slide 49 continued the recommendations with a "menu of options" some of which Ms. Johnson said we already do like leasing space, combining administrative locations (but she forgot to say it saved us NO money), redistribution of programs. Then there was this hilarious one: "capital construction program to add capacity". You mean like at a northeast elementary where we could have had added capacity by this fall? Yes, that would have been a good idea.
Michael said he was surprised to not see academics mentioned in any of these metrics. Kathy demurred and said it would come but I see it as more evidence of the siloing between departments that they wouldn't have even put it in. However, I can say from the CAC work that the public seemed to be of two minds. Close schools in the crummiest buildings (no matter the program - move it if you need to ) OR only look at successful programs and who cares about the building.
Peter said that the district needs to think about the number of active buildings that we have and is that sustainable.
Don Kennedy said that the small size of elementaries and the number of them is why SPS has so many buildings in play. Ms. Johnson referenced an interesting article in Crosscut about a book with the history of the rise of these small elementary schools.
Sherry expressed concern over how these metrics might be used and if their order might mean something. She said we need to be clear on definitions.
There was discussion over how to get the most use out of classrooms and how a class might be used for teaching for 5 periods out of a 6 period day.
Mary Bass noted that small, intimate learning environments had been a district direction for a long time and that some still like it.
Steve had a long thought about needing to solve these problems on multiple axis meaning, all of these things - enrollment, capacity management, levies, etc - are all going on at once and we need a method to see this as we go.
Michael also said that our excess capacity may be needed under the new SAP. He said that he felt overcrowding may happen as a function of program placement and popularity and not as an increase in population. He said, "We need the ability to manage capacity to invent rather than close schools."
Kathy agree with having flexible buildings but said they needed to start with a number to build to. I wanted to say, go read your own Facilities Master Plan. There are numbers printed there that your own department thought up.
Don Kennedy said that the piece that puzzles him is around small schools or not small schools. He said that he looked to the Board for guidance on what direction they wanted to take with this issue especially with closures and renovations.
Sherry mentioned something about having more kids in a classroom but maybe with two teachers (meaning you don't need to build a larger school). I think this might not work because of the logistics of two teachers and/or the need for a larger classroom itself to hold more kids.
Slide 49 referenced the use of "annexes". Meaning, a building nearby for overflow students. It would be much less disruptive than opening or closing a building. Many NE sites could possibly hold an annex.
Peter weighed in with the needs of Core 24 and possibly pre-school in thinking of building size.
Overall, I was not impressed. It looked like a thrown together presentation with not much meat or thought and it asked the Board to figure it out for them.