Capacity Study Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are a number of questions raised concerning the capacity study. These questions have been posed by community members to the general email address for the Enrollment Capacity Study review process at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions included in these FAQs:
How does facility construction or expansion play a factor in determining capacity reassignment?
The Facilities Planning Chart shows the change in building construction needs for the district between our current enrollment alignment and the needs with a reassignment of neighborhoods. Not all building requirements are eliminated, but they are significantly reduced and that results in a substantial reduction in expenditures.
Why wasn’t Mill Street expanded more when the changes were made a few years ago?
Mill Street was expanded to support a five (5)-section program with 750 student capacity. It was never the intention of the district to create six (6)- or seven (7)-section grade schools as they do not serve the greater educational good of the students. Mill Street enrollment was reduced last year in a first step toward better balancing capacities knowing that additional movements would be required going forward.
Are there enough children being moved from Mill Street in this change?
Yes. There are spaces inside of Mill Street that can be reconfigured. In addition, there are students attending Mill Street as part of the grandfather agreement in last year’s move who will transition out in the next few years. Children from these homes will attend their new school assignment in the future.
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How does building construction factor into the decision to reassign students?
The district has an obligation to be good stewards of our resources. The district has looked at the facility needs for each school based on 1) no shifts in enrollment and 2) shifts in enrollment for each Draft Map #1-6 configuration. A Facilities Planning Chart showing a breakdown of what construction would be required in each building can be found on this web site and in the documentation for Draft Map 6, the map that will be brought to the public forums.
The chart shows how the changes in the number of sections in a school and neighborhood reassignments combine to reduce the overall construction needs for the district.
Why not expand Beebe to make room for the additional students?
The district has an obligation to be good stewards of all our resources. If Beebe were to remain a five (5)-section program, both classrooms and a multipurpose room would be required additions. A reduction in capacity to four (4)-sections through neighborhood reassignment removes the need for classrooms and increases the options for space reconfiguration that cost substantially less that a multi-purpose room addition.
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What grandfathering has already been decided if a boundary map revision were to be approved by the Board?
If a transition were to begin next year, all current high school students and all incoming 8th grade students will go to their present high school assignment and remain there until graduation. All current 6th and 7th grade students will remain at their present junior high school and then attend the high school that they are assigned to under the revised boundary map. All current 5th grade students will enter their current junior high school assignment and remain there until they enter high school. High school attendance would be based on the revised boundary plan. Current 4th grade students will finish their final year in their present elementary school, and then attend junior high school based on the revised boundary plan.
If a transition were to begin in 2013-2014, all attending high school students will remain at their present school until graduation. All 6th, 7th and 8th grade students will complete junior high at their present school, and then attend the high school they are assigned to under the revised boundary plan. All 4th and 5th grade students will finish their final year(s) in their present elementary school, and then attend junior high school based on the revised boundary plan.
Revisions to this plan may be required once numbers of students are set, but this is not anticipated at this time.
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How do I learn more about the Common Core State Standards?
For the first time in U.S. education history, a majority of states have agreed to a common baseline for academic knowledge and college readiness skills. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate from high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. More information is available on the following web sites:
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If this is a capacity issue and a school is not over capacity, why are you moving out students?
This study has always been about looking to the needs of the district not only for next year but for the next five (5) to ten (10) years. This means exploring capacity changes that meet the immediate concerns some schools are experiencing now. This also means taking the opportunity to position all schools to be able to accommodate programs and services that best serve the educational/instructional needs of our students.
The capacity study is a work in progress. Previously unidentified issues will surface throughout this process. Answers will come in stages beginning with understanding the optimal configuration of the attendance areas. After this is determined, transition timelines and plans including grandfathering issues can be solidified.
What types of issues could impact enrollment capacity at a school?
Instructional or support programs that require additional classroom space have an impact on the overall capacity of the school. In addition, not all grade levels are equal in size. If a grade level has an increase in the number of students that moves the average class size above 29 then a new section is opened. In a four (4)-section school this means a fifth class room for that year of students as they progress through each grade level, potentially. Some moving in/out of families can cause an increase/decrease at any point, so the need for the classroom can change. Regardless, classroom space must be available for this possibility.
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Why are we considering new district programs?
Changes in state mandates and national goals for education require that we continually improve our instructional program. What our students are expected to know, when they are expected to know it and how they will be tested on what they know is changing. The district is constantly analyzing and enhancing its educational programs which have resulted in making our district stronger.
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Rather than move any students at all, why aren’t you looking at expanding the schools that need more space?
Not considering the space available in other schools in any capacity review is not good stewardship of our resources. A Master Facilities Plan is being created for the district that identifies areas where redesign or expansion of spaces is required to match identified needs and the feasibility of each project. The district has a facility plan from 2007. This is still on our website: Master Facilities Plan 2007
We also had a Facilities Physical Survey done in 2006 (evaluating the condition of major building components and schedule for repair/renovation): Facilities Physical Survey Report 2006 What is being done is an extension of the work previously completed.
How is a boundary reassignment that moves so many students from one school meeting the “least impact” criteria?
As a district, we are looking at the least amount of impact across all schools. This does not mean several schools would not have significant impact, nor that students in programs like Maplebrook magnet dual language, PI+, self-contained special education programs, etc. would not experience a change that has a meaningful impact on them. All the draft maps developed impact 950-1051 students with a possibility of an additional 200+ students from other programs. Overall, this is less than an 8% shift in a district of over 17,500 students.
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Would you move students out of a school just to move in others?
Yes. In some cases, the neighborhood assignment shift shown in the draft maps is made to relieve pressure on a more crowded school. This is the case for Steeple Run where students from Beebe would be assigned to Steeple Run. As a result, families in areas of the Steeple Run boundary would be reassigned. The other schools indicated on the draft maps that would be accepting students do not require a change in neighborhood assignment to accommodate the additional capacity. This may change as other draft maps are created.
Are you moving students out of Highlands to move the students from the Maplebrook dual language in?
No. This has not been considered. Taking students out of Highlands just to add a magnet program such as the Maplebrook magnet dual language program would return the school to a four (4)-section program.
Doesn’t moving students into Maplebrook just overcrowd that school?
No. The current dual language program located at Maplebrook is a magnet program that is one (1) full section. Yes, draft maps move the dual language magnet program from Maplebrook to Kingsley or River Woods, but these are NOT final plans. These schools are being considered because they have the capacity for one (1) full section. Moving the dual language magnet to one of the other schools can free up space so that any influx of reassigned students would be well within the capacity of Maplebrook.
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Are we moving boundaries for the purpose of positively impacting test scores?
No. This has never been a criteria. Although the newly adopted Common Core State Standards will impact our instructional program, the goal of the ECS committee is to make a recommendation to the Board of Education that will enable each of our facilities to effectively support our core instructional program now and in the future.
Is the distribution of students on “free and reduced lunch” taken into consideration?
No. This is a capacity process. The percentage of low income students in a school has not been a consideration in determining what neighborhoods meet the criteria for reassignment. If one of the draft maps presented is approved there are some outcomes that do change school percentages, but they are not a driver for the decisions. The current range among schools is 2.5% to 24.6%. In all five maps this range is reduced and in all five draft maps the variance from the mean is reduced among our schools.
When will all of this happen?
The timeline of the transition is determined by the Board of Education and is based on a number of factors. The transition could be phased in depending on the extent of the reassignments. The movement of one neighborhood could potentially occur before another neighborhood. Students may have the opportunity to move to their new assignment before the official transition date. There are variables that impact each of these decisions including the capacity of the school to receive additional students.
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We thank all the individuals who have taken the time to ask questions and put forth their concerns for consideration throughout this process. Information on the web site pages is being continually updated; please follow the process on the Demographic, Enrollment and Capacity Review and Planning Study page.