School board to discuss plans in wake of vote

Defeat of $185 million bond measure sends administration back to drawing board

The School District 51 Board of Education will begin the process of deciding which alternative growth-management plan to pursue after voters shot down a $185 million bond package for new schools.

Year-round schooling was the district’s recommendation to the board a month ago as a backup plan, and Superintendent Tim Mills, while watching Election Day results come in, said the option remains the district’s best recommendation. District 51 administrators are beginning to compile data on year-round schooling to present to the board.

The district will research other districts that have successfully implemented year-round sessions, the estimated cost of implementing a year-round calendar, staffing needs, the development of a district-specific academic calendar and an implementation timeline.

Mills said the cost of implementing year-round schools could reach $20 million, and if the board selects the year-round option, the district likely would begin communicationwith parents regarding the change in September 2009 with the switch coming a year later.

Under a year-round system, students would rotate through four quarters throughout the year and get either spring, summer, fall or winter off.

Year-round schooling is disruptive for families, Mills said, but it is the most viable option because it increases the capacity of buildings by 25 percent without increasing capital costs.

The district likely will have to invest in modular classrooms, Mills said. The facilities cost about $150,000 apiece and add two classrooms, but they lose value quickly, he said.

Other options previously presented to the board were reassigning students at overcrowded schools to neighboring buildings with space, changing attendance boundaries and splitting class into morning and evening sessions.

The school board meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Basil T. Knight building, 2523 Patterson Road.


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