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Facilities Study Group Offers Options for Schools

Speakers at the Long Beach Board of Education meeting Nov. 26, when the Facilities Utilization Study Group presented their findings. (Credit: Rosemary Leonetti)
Speakers at the Long Beach Board of Education meeting Nov. 26, when the Facilities Utilization Study Group presented their findings. (Credit: Rosemary Leonetti)

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.
Lido Shuffle December 04, 2013 at 10:25 AM
The Facilities Advisory Committee which represented a wide range of constituencies, was constrained by the superintendent from including any financial or educational research data in its report. This reduced the value of the report to merely a rearranging of the chess pieces. Compounding this shortcoming is the fact that the Board of Education has asked the Superintendent to unilaterally pare down the options it presented. The public should be very suspect of this as it negates the year-long efforts of the 20+ members of the committee and places the decision in the hands of someone whose motivation all along has been to create office space for himself and his assistants.
Misty December 05, 2013 at 09:35 AM
Lido Shuffle, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was at the meeting and listened to the presentations. Some were good, others, not so good. I was also most interested in the financial aspect of each idea. I was not impressed with the committee members who are self serving for their own private interests - their pampered pooches.
Lido Shuffle December 05, 2013 at 11:33 AM
I must take exception to that characterization. The members of the Facilities Advisory Committee were honorable, dedicated and concerned citizens. In many cases they were coerced into publicly presenting options which they would not personally endorse.
BSM December 05, 2013 at 12:32 PM
In addition to the financial considerations, I would be interested in knowing what, if any, effect the extra transportation would have on the youngest of students. The whole point of all of this should be what most benefits the STUDENTS at the most reasonable cost. Not the convince of the already too costly administration.
LBMom December 09, 2013 at 09:33 PM
The conversation continues tomorrow. The options are being pared down to the most feasible the financial considerations will be part of the discussion. The students do and should come first. Residents need to show up at the BOE meetings to assure that this is the case. This is not only about housing administrators. It is also about keeping programs intact without raising taxes.
Noway Jose December 09, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Yet the board of ed has entrusted the very man whose goal has always been to build offices for himself to do the paring. At this point in time the members of the facilities committee should be feeling like their work was just for show. Transparency? Bah humbug.

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