- Published on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 22:53
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The 7th and 8th grades will move out of King George Middle School into the existing high school over the summer. The existing high school will be vacated at the end of next month, with a new replacement high school expected to be dedicated on January 29.
There are no plans to use the middle school building in 2009-10.
That’s because the 6th grade will remain in the county’s three elementary schools instead of being moved into the vacated middle school building with the 5th grade, as discussed for the last three years.
Timing is everything and this is not the time to ask for big bucks from the county.
The School Board has gotten the message that the county and its taxpayers are feeling the pinch caused by the current economy.
At least most of the School Board members have.
That was evidenced last week when the School Board voted 4-1 to maintain the status quo for the current grade levels in the schools, which had the result of postponing opening the middle school building next fall as an intermediate school.
Renee Parker voted against the motion.
Parker argued that the School Board should try to get more money from the county and/or see if some other pots of money might be used to help fund startup and operating costs for an intermediate school next fall.
Parker suggested that $250K that has been discussed as an additional appropriation in the current year from the Board of Supervisors might be combined with $226K in remaining Sealston Elementary School construction funds to help fund the costs.
But those two pots of money would not come near to the amount needed, even if both amounts are still available from the county, which is becoming doubtful.
Close to $3 million is the cost estimate for startup and operating costs for the first year of an intermediate school in the current middle school.
$1,282,506 is estimated for the annual, recurring costs of operations for an intermediate school to pay for administrators, faculty, guidance and support staff, along with equipment, books and supplies.
In addition, there would be one-time costs estimated at $1,450,975 to replace the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC), construct a new well, purchase and install a multi-media system, and refurbish the school’s existing lecture room.
Parker unsuccessfully urged her colleagues to agree to go forward with the intermediate school plan to shift 5th and 6th grades to the middle school and to ask county supervisors for the money.
Parker said Supervisors heard the need at the joint meeting on October 29. “I would rather ask for what is best for the students than not ask at all,” Parker stated.
Sherrie Allwine noted that an intermediate school would be an educational benefit, but also said that the current program is working successfully at the three elementary schools with the 6th grades in place. Allwine added that leaving them in place for the coming year would “buy more time to get the money we need.”
Supervisor of Curriculum Ann Cocke was asked for her opinion. She stated, “Everything has been worked out and they do a really excellent job for teachers to team effectively.” She added, “I think we can make anything work.”
Regarding moving the 6th grades, Cocke also said, “We don’t want to move them for the sake of moving, and would want to look long-term.”
Payne Kilbourn concurred with the idea to keep the 7th and 8th grades together and only move them from the middle school to the existing high school for next fall.
Kilbourn added, “Leave the 6th grade where they are and we will have a year to get our arms around where we want to go.”
Chairman Dennis Paulsen pointed out, “If we go with status quo, we would leave the middle school vacant for a year.”
Lynn Pardee noted, “If we spent the money this year, over $3M this year, it would have to come out of somewhere else in our budget.” She added, “We would have to make cuts somewhere else.”
But Parker persisted, saying, “This may be just my Pollyanna attitude, but I’m not convinced after the last joint meeting.”
Parker said they should go back to the Board of Supervisors and ask for more money, saying, “I think we should point this out again to supervisors and make them see that if they are interested in the well-being of these kids, they would only want to move them one time.”
Brown capped the discussion, saying, “I just really need to say we do not have excessively crowded conditions. Sealston is fine, Potomac is fine. King George is full, they are crowded, but if we move the three trailers there, it will give them the relief they need.”
Parker was out-voted 4-1 by the rest of the members of the School Board.
That vote resulted in agreement to only incur an additional $20,882 in annual operating costs.
Those costs include estimates of $53K for hiring an additional special education teacher and $15K for paraprofessionals and $15K in additional secretarial salaries. Those costs would be mitigated by a reduction of $62,118 in trailer rental savings.
Three of the existing trailers at the middle school will be shifted to King George Elementary School to address overcrowding in the main building.
That’s because the vote to keep the status quo also means that the 6th grades will remain at the three elementary schools for at least the next school year.
It’s possible that the proposal to use the middle school as an intermediate school will be revisited during the course of the next year.
In the meantime, that leaves $39K in the current year’s School Board budget that will not be needed. That amount was set aside to hire a principal and secretary in April to start hiring staff for an intermediate school.