Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

School officials grapple with overcrowding

February 19, 2003

If Tonganoxie Elementary School's enrollment continues to grow next year, could students wind up attending class in a church basement?

That was one of the options superintendent Richard Erickson presented at last week's school board meeting.

Here are the options Superintendent Richard Erickson has come up with to help with the grade school's increasing enrollment:

¢ Remain status quo and do nothing. Increase the size of classes at Tonganoxie Elementary School and the student-teacher ratios.

¢ Purchase and install a modular (two classrooms) at TES.

¢ Move several TES classes to the Methodist and/or Congregational church basements.

¢ Move the sixth grade to Tonganoxie Junior High School and house either the sixth grade or the ninth grade in the modular classrooms.

¢ Move the sixth grade to TJHS and move the ninth grade to five new classrooms which would be constructed as the first phase of the vocational facility.

¢ Move the sixth grade to TJHS, remodel the central office and move the ninth grade to the central office. Move the auto-mechanics classroom and the central office to other locations.

But Erickson was quick to admit he didn't think leasing the basements of the Congregational or Methodist churches would be a viable option.

"When you're egressing out of a basement, you can't house kindergarten to second-graders because they'd have to egress up a stairway, so that's a problem," Erickson said. "If we were going to use it as a temporary fix it would have to be upper grade levels, so I'd see that as a very limited option."

At last week's school board meeting, board members and Erickson discussed the possibility of building a future vocational facility between the junior high and high school, and temporarily using it to house ninth-graders. Under that plan, sixth-graders would be moved into the present junior high, which would then function as a middle school with seventh- and- eighth-graders.

But after meeting with the school's architect and a builder the next day, Erickson learned that December would be the earliest possible completion date for the vocational facility.

"Rather than try to make a transition right in the middle of the year, my recommendation to the board will be that we look at adding a modular at the elementary school for next year to accommodate any enrollment increases, plus to be able to provide an art classroom," Erickson said.

These issues, and other school construction ideas, will be discussed at the district's capital improvements committee meeting, set for 7 p.m. next Wednesday in the school district's central office.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and participate in the discussion.

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