Ken Mauldin: On overcrowded schools
As a parent of three children who attended Soda Creek Elementary School last year, I have personally witnessed the consequences of overcrowding.
The results of overcrowding are significant and include an entire grade level of children in outdoor trailer classrooms any stranger can walk right into and dramatically shortened lunch periods to accommodate the volume of students through the cafeteria.
In addition, space originally designed for special subjects such as art and music has been converted into basic classroom space, and individualized learning interventions have been pushed into the hallways in make-shift cubicles.
Our middle school is also above its designed capacity and doesn’t fare much better, with a similar loss of dedicated art and music space to provide basic classroom space and compressed lunch periods. Even with the addition of a sixth grade wing at the middle school in 2005, without a long-term solution to overcrowding, trailer classrooms there are just around the corner as the larger elementary school classes will feed into an already overcrowded middle school.
Our schools were designed to provide the required space for a limited number of students, and we’re well beyond that number at the elementary and middle-school levels. These complete facilities, not just classrooms, but the cafeteria, restrooms, playground, nurse’s clinic and common areas are stretched beyond capacity, and these needs must be addressed.
The solution offered by the school board through the bond vote is the most comprehensive, cost-effective and flexible of any of the five solutions initially considered. This plan of realigning existing facilities to meet the needs of our current and projected capacity results in only one new school building, a high school, rather than building two new school buildings through the addition of an elementary and middle school.
I support the bond proposal and think rejecting this proposal for another short-term solution will ultimately cost us more and provide less for our children.
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