Last spring we met several times with the incoming kindergarten parents at Evening Street Elementary. 91 kindergarten students had signed up for Evening Street’s attendance area and even with using two classrooms at the McConnell Arts Center we did not have the necessary classroom space to accommodate all students. Throughout those meetings the families indicated that they believed this large group of students would not be an outlier but the norm and they called for us to look at long-term solutions.
As a district we wanted some data to drive the decision and thus we contracted for an enrollment study completed by Future Think Inc. Now that we have received the enrollment study it indicates that the parents were correct. We do in fact need a long-term solution. In 2008 Evening Street had a total student enrollment of 456 students. In 2015 it’s 579 students. By 2021 it’s projected to be 645 students.
Back in 2010 we ran out of classroom space at Evening Street and contracted with the McConnell Arts Center for two classrooms. Two Kindergarten classes have been held at the MAC since that point and even in rain, ice and snow our kindergarten students walk to the actual school building several times each day for lunch, related arts, etc…
With enrollment on the rise we will likely be short one classroom for next school year. Projections show we’ll be short an additional classroom the following year and each year after for the next five years. Essentially a student population that previously fit into three classrooms at each grade level is now projected to need four classrooms at each grade level.
There are multiple ways that this problem could be solved. It may be that we should redraw the attendance lines so that there are less students at Evening Street. It may be that we should add onto the school or add modular classrooms. Students entering kindergarten could be bused to another school or sixth grade students could be served at the middle school or we could choose to hold classes at Thomas Worthington High School and walk back and forth like we do with the McConnell Arts Center.
There are many options. Whatever option that is selected should first take into account the educational impact of the option and it should be a win/win solution. (For instance it doesn’t make sense to move students to another school if that move makes the receiving school too big and the problem is not solved but just shifted.) Finally we would like to create a solution that lasts at least five years.
We recognize that to the families involved in these decisions they will have great impact. The board of education will be meeting during the day on January 11th. One of the items that will be discussed is Evening Street (We will meet from 9:20 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. and we will first review reports from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, then review the new enrollment reports referenced above and some other staffing comparisons we have created based on audits of our programming. Reviewing the options for Evening Street will be the final item on the agenda and the exact timing for discussion will be hard to gauge.) On January 20th a parent meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. at the Worthington Education Center where Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks will review the options with interested families. On January 25th the regular board of education meeting at 7:30 P.M. will again discuss the options for Evening Street and Mr. Banks will share with the Board of Education the feedback from the parent meeting. All meetings referenced are public meetings and visitors are welcome to attend. By early February we should have determined a course of action and we will communicate that decision to all parties.
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent