Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who wants supersized elementary schools? Jerry Weast

In the second sentence of Superintendent Jerry Weast's recommendation to close Monocacy Elementary School he misstates an important fact.
Superintendent Weast states:
"Enrollment at Monocacy Elementary below the Board of Education desired minimum enrollment level of 300 students." 
That statement is inaccurate. The Board of Education has not set a "desired minimum enrollment level".  The Board of Education gutted their Long Range Educational Facilities Planning Policy in 2005 and deleted all references to desired school facility size.  The Board of Education has not taken a position on "desired minimum enrollment" since that time.
But Superintendent Weast has.
His personal opinion is that elementary schools should be between 300 and 750 students and that is what he put in the regulation that he wrote. 
Under the old Board of Education Long Range Educational Facilities Planning Policy (the one that was gutted in 2005) the standard for elementary schools was as follows:
  • Elementary, middle and high schools should operate in an efficient utilization rate of 80 to 100 percent of program capacity...
  • A preferred range of enrollment for schools, provided they have program capacity is:  (1) Two to four classes per grade of students in an elementary school...
Under the old Long Range Educational Facilities Planning Policy, Monocacy Elementary would be right on the mark.  They are operating at above 80% of capacity and have utilized the entire school building (they are currently using 3 classroom trailers). 

Maybe this is why the late Councilmember Marilyn Praisner didn't want to see the Board of Education Policy on Long Range Educational Facilities tossed aside in 2005. Under the old Policy, it would have been clear that Monocacy Elementary School was operating within Board guidelines established through an extensive community involvement process.  Now, without Board guidelines, Monocacy Elementary School is on the chopping block based on the personal opinion of one Superintendent from out of state.

1 comment:

  1. This policy is not limited to elementary schools. Anyone who has been inside of the new'renovations' at Richard Montgomery HS and Walter Johnson HS can see the wide, wide gleaming hallways, and the huge classrooms. Why build such wide hallways? Why such huge classrooms? Why, as we see, to cram more and more children into these factories, which used to be known as schools. This model of school as factory is perfect for our CEO Weast's vision of a public school system transformed into a business engine. All at taxpayers expense.


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