- Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:52
- Published on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:52
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King George Superintendent Candace issued capacity figures for the county schools last week, with an official current tally of space available on August 5.
School Board member Dennis Paulsen asked Brown what appeared to be a simple question about student capacities at the division’s schools at the last School Board meeting on July 22.
The answer to that question has never been simple and has always been a moving target in King George. This time was no different.
Paulsen asked, “Can someone give me the max numbers for each of the schools?”
Brown responded saying, “I need to know - which capacity do you want? Do you want the state number, the King George number? Do you want the architect number?”
Paulsen inquired, “What’s the difference between the King George number and the architect number?”
Brown said, “The King George number traditionally has accounted for lower class size. The architect, depending on the architect at the time, will come up with 22, 25 per class, whatever, and then allocate the number of classrooms. The difficulty is at King George Elementary School we have the gifted center there that occupies some rooms, we have some clustered special education programs there that takes up some smaller rooms. We can give you a general number, if you like.”
A few weeks later, on August 3, The Journal requested Brown to provide a copy of any school capacity document supplied to Paulsen.
That started a confusing flurry of emails from Brown plus a phone call. She sent The Journal four school capacity attachments over three days, though a couple had the same figures.
The first email attachment contained the following numbers, which add up to a capacity of 3,303 students.
King George High School - 762
King George Middle School - 637
King George Elementary School - 696
Potomac Elementary School - 491
Sealston Elementary School - 717
But the capacity number of 762 for King George High School, which opened in February with a capacity of 1,700 students, is obviously a mistake, and The Journal pointed that out in an email response.
Brown called to explain and apologized, saying she must not have ‘saved’ the document she had sent to School Board members and said she would send the updated numbers.
The numbers needed updating because the former high school is being converted and is newly named King George Middle School. The former middle school building is now closed down for at least the next year and nobody knows what to call it.
As a result, confusion ensues over which school building is called what, let alone the number of students they hold.
The Journal also asked if she might include capacity information on old King George Elementary School since some special education classes are being held there.
Her second and third attachments of August 4 contained the following numbers, which add up to a capacity of 5,003 students, but the first one mislabeled one of the schools.
These are assumed to be the new figures previously sent to members of the School Board, as requested, though we are not sure:
King George High School
King George Middle School
Old King George Middle School - 637
King George Elementary School - 696
Potomac Elementary School
Sealston Elementary School
But Brown didn’t stop there.
She sent out a final email on August 5 with another attachment on the capacity topic that she also sent to members of the School Board and contained the following cover email message:
“I have been thinking about the school capacity numbers that I sent out. As I said at the meeting, different sources yield different numbers. We have some King George numbers, some architect numbers and some state numbers. The numbers I sent are not consistent from school to school as the King George standards have changed throughout the years. At one time, class size standards were addressed in the Six Year Plan (now the Comprehensive Plan) but were removed a few years ago. So we currently have nothing specific in place. To compare apples to apples, I have calculated the school capacities based on 25 students per classroom eliminating classrooms that are being used for specific programs - please see the attached. As you can see, the capacity numbers can change based on the programs offered. Unfortunately, our students do not show up in neat packages of 25. This can create an issue when allocating space.”
Brown’s fourth and final attachment contained the following additional narrative and capacity figures:
“2009-2010 School Capacities - Unless otherwise noted, class size is based on 25 students per classroom. Additional designated spaces exist in the schools such as art rooms, music/band rooms, computer labs, science/math labs and small resource rooms. If these programs are eliminated or the space reallocated, the capacity of the school increases. Based on the programs being offered, the capacity of a school can change from year to year.”
She then supplied the following capacity figures, which add up to 5,706 students.
[It should be noted that early childhood students are not counted in the average daily membership (ADM) numbers for state basic aid.]
Her attachment contained the following comments, as reprinted below:
• King George High School - 1,700
• King George Middle School - 875
• Old King George Middle School - 600; This does not include the lecture hall.
• King George Elementary School- 950; Two regular size classrooms are designated for the gifted center. Three regular size classrooms are designated for special education classes.
• Potomac Elementary School - 625; Two regular size classrooms are designated for special education classes. One regular size classroom is designated for reading resource. One regular size classroom is designated for the state required reading coach.
• Sealston Elementary School - 900; One regular size classroom is designated for band.
• Old King George Elementary School (Early Childhood Special Education Center) – 56; Maximum Class Size - 8 Students. One regular size classroom is used as a computer training lab.
Recap of what we think we know and what we have been told
Brown provided a report to the Board of Supervisors in 2003 giving capacity information on the schools.
In that report, Brown compared the School Board’s lower class size numbers to those provided under Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) guidelines.
Since that time, the School Board eliminated their previous goals which called for lower class sizes, so the various capacities for the school buildings should now match state’s guidelines in the Standards of Quality and rated capacities.
NEW KING GEORGE HIGH SCHOOL
The King George school division currently has one brand-new high school serving grades 9 through 12, which opened last February with a rated capacity of 1,700 students. That presumably accounts for smaller special education classes.
KING GEORGE MIDDLE SCHOOL
There is one middle school which will open this fall serving grades 7 and 8. It’s in the building which was the former high school, which has been undergoing $4 million in renovations and is getting ready to open.
In her 2003 report to Supervisors, Brown said the capacity of that school building was 880 students. That compares similarly with the current number provided last week and noted above at 875 for the former high school building, which is now the current middle school.
FORMER MIDDLE SCHOOL BUILDING – NOW CLOSED
The former middle school building, noted at a capacity of 600 in Brown’s last list, is closed down for at least the coming school year.
So, if 600 student slots are subtracted from the last calculation provided from Brown, the division will have a student capacity of 5,106 students for the upcoming school year.
But, when that former middle school building was built in 1976, Brown reported in 2003 that the school was expected to have a rated capacity of 614 students. Since then, in 2000, dual cafeterias were added and sections of the former cafeteria were partitioned to add six additional classrooms.
Counting an average of 25 students for each of those six added classrooms would boost the 614 total by 150 students to a total of 764.
Deducting for the lecture room, since it is used on a rotating basis and not as a home-room, would bring the number down to about the 737 students that she told Supervisors in her 2003 was the state’s rated capacity for the middle school building.
But now she says it will hold 600 students. What happened to those 137 additional student slots? More information is needed for a clearer understanding of the capacity number supplied.
The division currently has three elementary schools, which serve students in Kindergarten through 6th grades.
~ KGES King George Elementary School at Purkins Corner was designed for a capacity of 950 students when it opened in 1997, which included lower counts for special education students. Brown’s current figure agrees with that 950 number. With about 830 students enrolled last year, why does it have five mobile classroom trailers? More information is needed for a clearer understanding of the capacity number supplied.
~ PES An addition to Potomac Elementary School was completed in 1991, nearly doubling the school capacity and boosting it to 800 students. Brown had told Supervisors in 2003 that the VDOE rated capacity was 699. Now she is saying it holds 625, but notes that a total of four classrooms are being used for other purposes. At an average of 25 students per classrooms, that would deduct only 100 students from the capacity total. More information is needed for a clearer understanding of the capacity number supplied.
~ SES Sealston Elementary School opened in September 2004 with a capacity designed to accommodate 717 students. Now Brown confirms it will hold 900.
(See related article elsewhere in this issue on enrollment figures.)
By Phyllis Cook, Staff Reporter