March 22, 2017 Update on Ad Hoc Committee for Elementary Enrollment
MarcThe Ad Hoc Committee for Elementary Enrollment met for the first time on March 22, 2017. The Committee has been tasked with conducting an analysis of the need to rebalance enrollment across all five elementary schools. The meeting began with a presentation by demographer George Sundell of Sundance Associates. He provided an executive summary of the trends and projections contained in the October 2016 Demographic Study of Public School Enrollments for TESD. Mr Sundell noted that while total District enrollment has increased by approximately 10% since 2008, elementary enrollment has decreased over 7% or 172 students. Although projections indicate a slight decrease in K-4 over the next five years, the differences in student populations at individual elementary schools will not naturally balance out over the period.
Dr. Wendy Towle, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Planning and Staff Development, presented the impact that the disparity in student enrollment at the building level has had on the delivery of the District’s elementary program. The District’s overall educational program is guided by the Strategic Plan, and the foundation for the elementary program is provided by the Elementary Blueprint for Instruction. The Elementary Blueprint for Instruction outlines the structure of the District’s program including the grade level team structure, student grouping, curricular programs and subject area time allocations. The District is already seeing an impact of the enrollment imbalance on the uniform delivery of the Blueprint for Instruction. By way of example, the Blueprint provides for a consistent, uninterrupted block of Language Arts instruction across classes in each grade. This block of instruction allows for integration of reading and writing and provides the structure for reading support classes to occur during the block, as they are intentionally scheduled around reading groups. Currently, special area classes in some grades are scheduled during Language Arts to accommodate additional sections of students. In addition, some special area classes such as physical education and library are scheduled with two classes sharing the space. Also schoolwide and large group experiences have been configured differently at times. Further, the Blueprint for Instruction recommends science instruction that includes two classes in specially-designed laboratory classrooms as well as the regular classroom. In the 2017-2018 school year at Devon Elementary School, it is very possible that more of these lab classes may need to take place in a regular core classroom.
The Committee discussed possible actions to address the disparity in the distribution of student population at the elementary schools: maintain the status quo, build a new school, expand existing elementary school facilities or redistrict elementary school students. The pros and cons of each option were reviewed and discussed. Based on the enrollment projections and the impact on the delivery of the elementary program, the Committee agreed that maintaining the status quo does not address the disparity in elementary school student populations. The Committee will not explore building an additional school at this time. At its next meeting, the Committee will continue to examine expansion of existing school facilities and redistricting in order to meet the goal of uniform delivery of the Blueprint for Instruction.
The Committee will meet next on April 4, 2017 to discuss possible timelines, parameters, best practices and costs to rebalance the student population.