Written by Rosemary Leonetti/Syntax
The Long Beach Public Schools Facilities Utilization Study Group, which convened in 2012, was formed to review district demographics, use of facilities and class sizes in all buildings. At the Nov. 26 Board of Education Meeting at Middle School, the group presented their findings to the board, outlining a detailed list of possible configuration options for the Board members and administration to consider, listing advantages and concerns of each option.
“This is just the starting point for further discussions,” explained Superintendent of Schools David Weiss. “All of the options that will be presented this evening are just conceptual at this point.”
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Using information from two recently commissioned demographic studies, the group began its work by examining the advantages and concerns of all possible uses of buildings in the district. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the group was also charged with examining new realities resulting from the storm.
The group identified three driving forces behind their study: to address the impact of a reduction in student population over the last decade; to examine ways to meet student needs in the most efficient way possible; and to find a permanent solution to the displacement of district administrators after the former administration building was severely damaged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Taking these three drivers into account, members considered the possibility of consolidating buildings, reorganizing grade configurations, doing a combination of both, or maintaining the status quo. Several key ideas emerged through the study.
The group found that there is underutilized classroom space in the elementary schools, and that class sizes are not maximized in each grade. The group observed that pupil population is trending downward, with the final impact of the storm on the population yet to be determined. The group also noted that there is a new PreK building, along with newly refurbished classrooms at Lido School, West School, the middle school and the high school. The central administration staff is currently dispersed throughout the district.
Option 1A involves repurposing East School as an administration building and/or other adult uses. Option 1B involved repurposing West School for administration and other adult uses.
Option 2A involves converting Lido School to an early childhood center for all district students in grades PreK-1, with all children in grades 2-5 split between the other three elementary schools. Additional space at Lindell School would be used to house administration.
Option 2B involves making Lido School a modified districtwide early childhood center for PreK and kindergarten students, with all children in grades 1-4 split between Lindell, West and East. Under this plan, all students in grades 5-6 would attend the middle school and administration would be housed at Lindell School.
Under option 2C, all PreK and kindergarten classes would be housed at Lido School, together with administration staff. All students in grades 1-5 would be split between the other three elementary schools, and there would be no change at the middle school.
Under Option 3A, the PreK Center would remain at Lido School. Lido and West School would both serve students in grades K-2, with Lido feeding into Lindell and West feeding into East for grades 3-5. Administration would be located at Lindell School.
Under Option 3B, West and Lido would serve students in PreK-2, with West School students feeding into East School and Lido students feeding into Lindell School for grades 3-5. Under this plan, administration would also be housed at Lindell School.
Under Option 4A, all PreK students would attend the PreK Center at Lido School. Students in grades K-2 would be split between West and Lido School, with all students in grades 3-5 feeding into Lindell School. Under this plan, East School would be repurposed for administration and other uses.
Under Option 4B, All students in PreK through grade 2 would attend Lido School, with students split between West and Lindell School for grades 3-5. Under this plan, East School would be closed and administration would be housed at Lindell School.
Finally, Option 5 involves maintaining the status quo.
The Board of Education has charged the administrative staff with providing a detailed analysis of the options, with more specifics about cost analysis and distribution of students and staff under each plan that is deemed viable.
The Board will continue public discussions at the Dec. 10 and Jan. 14 Board of Education meetings. On Jan. 21 the district will host a community forum to gather further input from residents about the various options under consideration.
For a copy of the presentation, which contains a detailed list of pros and cons for each plan, and additional facilities information, visit the School Boards page of www.lbeach.org.