Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Highland Elementary challenged by  overcrowding issues

Sep 19, 2017

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

At the Highland School Board meeting last Monday, Highland Elementary principal Jane O’Leary told the board they were having issues with having space for support services.

“We do have a very full building,” O’Leary said, “and I would like the school board to consider solutions for next year. For example, today [Monday, Sept. 11] in our library we had ELL students working with the ELL teacher, we had speech students working with the speech teacher and the music teacher preparing music because she’s on a cart. We had library going on all day long [and] we had people in the computer lab all day long.”

The technology integration specialists, instructional coach, preschool reading teacher and autism consultant were also in the library that day, O’Leary added. Mondays are the worst days for the library.

The school is using a small conference room in the library for the speech and ELL programs.

“I don’t know what we might think of doing, but I know last year we had talked about moving the fifth grade out of the middle school,” O’Leary said, “possibly [having] a preschool wing. It would be nice to get the first grade all back together instead of two here and one there. I don’t know what it would be, but I’m just saying we’re very full.”

She said she was letting the board know this was becoming an issue, so they weren’t surprised when it came up in January or February next year.

Board member Rachel Longbine said she wasn’t happy to hear there were spacing issues after the board voted to close the Ainsworth school building.

“I’m highly concerned that we now are out of space,” Longbine said. “We were told last year we had no issues with space in Riverside. How did this just come about?”

“Well, I don’t think it just came about,” O’Leary replied. “We talked about needing to move the fifth grade out at the end of last year.”

Longbine said the board was assured there would be plenty of space.

“There’s space for every student and every classroom, except music is on a cart but then all the support people do not have a place and we don’t have a conference room,” O’Leary said.

“And we didn’t put that into thought?” Longbine asked.

Highland interim superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said there will be an open room next year because there will only be two sections of first grade.

“I agree with Rachel,” board member Lois Schneider said, “that was my understanding.”

Longbine said hearing this from O’Leary was like a slap in the face.

“Did we not think of that?” Longbine asked.

“I brought it up a number of times last year at the end of the year,” O’Leary replied.

“The decision was made in February though,” Schneider said.

O’Leary agreed with Schneider about that and said that is when she started bringing it up to the board before February.

“This is just going to have to work for now,” board member Nate Robinson said, “because we made that decision.”

O’Leary told Longbine she was just telling her what the facts were.

“But the thing is, I was told we were fine with what we had last year,” Longbine said, “that was part of our decision in February — that we had room for everything and everybody putting music on a cart. We would be fine, and now we’re not.”

Robinson asked O’Leary why all the support services were there on Monday. He also asked if they could spread that out through the week.

The schedule for some of the support services Grant Wood provides in the district they have no control over, O’Leary replied. Monday was just a full day.

Schneider said the children in the support services wouldn’t be getting the help they needed because there is too much confusion going on.

Board member Cindy Michel asked if the library could have cubicles installed to help separate the support services. O’Leary said every space in the library is already being used and the conference room by the principal’s office is being used for the guidance office.

“I didn’t bring it up to upset anybody,” O’Leary said. “I just think you guys need to know it’s very full and I’m not saying, ‘build on or move anybody.’ I just want you guys to be aware and problem solve through [it].”

When the decision was made Robinson said they knew spacing at the elementary school was going to be tight and they would just have to work through it.





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