Mr. Manuel began the meeting with a Powerpoint presentation on GMSD's state assessment scores. Using information that had previously been embargoed by the state, he disputed several statements made by the Commercial Appeal regarding GMSD's progress. Those statements made in the article on Sunday have since been retracted by the Commercial Appeal. The retraction was printed in today's paper.
Ken Hoover then presented a report by the Facilities Committee. Once again, it was established that GMSD is a growing school district that is quickly running out of room. But the big question is what to do about it?
Town Hall Survey Results
Four Options for Capital Improvements
1. Expand all existing schools.
2. Expand Riverdale and build a K-8 school in south Germantown.
3. Expand both Riverdale & HMS and build a K-5 school in south Germantown.
4. Build a new middle school on Riverdale's current campus and build a K-5 in south Germantown.
Mr. Manuel addressed the first option of expanding all existing schools. He focused on Farmington Elementary School and listed all the problems that would be caused by additional students at that school. He noted that students would have to begin eating lunch as early as 10:15am and that there was only two adult toilets for the 93 member faculty. He went on to list the impact on common spaces such as the parking lot, playground, gym, library.
Then, Mr. Manuel made the case for a new $1.2mil gym at Houston High School. He said that the city could use the gym for recreational leagues and HHS could use the additional facilities for athletic programs and gym classes.
Lisa Parker said that expansion of current schools did not appear to be an ideal solution. She added that replacing the portables at Riverdale with a building is her number one priority followed by a new elementary school on the south side of Germantown. She suggested earmarking a couple of million dollars to identify land for a building site. She would consider the new gym at HHS after those projects were in place.
Mark Dely said that it would be ideal to have GES and GMS but realized that option was not on the table. He said the board should consider the costs of improving common areas to serve a larger student body if the board chose expansion of existing schools.
Linda Fisher agreed that they must get rid of the portables at Riverdale.
Natalie Williams said that she did not have enough information to make a decision on expansion of current schools. She said that Riverdale is clearly a priority and urged to board to be flexible in any plans for expansion. She also wanted to invest in longstanding improvements rather than temporary solutions such as portables.
Ken Hoover said that all four options addressed the portables at Riverdale and while the board did not need to make a decision tonight, the board did need to narrow its direction. He went on to say that it appeared there was a consensus to keep Riverdale as a K-8 school. Mark Dely said that he liked the idea of having a choice between K-8 and HMS but could also be persuaded into having a district with only middle schools. Ken Hoover then asked how many Riverdale 5th graders applied for transfer to 6th grade at HMS? He answered that it seemed to be very few.
Natalie Williams asked if HMS could handle the additional students of a new elementary school. Mr. Manuel said HMS could not handle the capacity of an additional feeder schools. So, the question became whether the new elementary school should be a new K-8 school? Ken Hoover suggested that the school could initially be a K-5 with expansion plans for it to be a future K-8 school. Ms. Parker said that it seemed the best plan was to expand Riverdale and build a new K-8 school. Mr. Hoover agreed but wanted to be flexible considering both a K-8 and a K-5 with an expansion plan to become a K-8. Ms. Williams said the board needed to make sure that flexibility does not result in uncertainty for parents. Mr. Dely said the decision would depend on costs. He also suggested putting aside money for portables to meet current overcrowding needs until new improvements are made. Mr. Hoover agreed to writing up a summary of the board's discussion.
Mr. Hoover also said that construction needed to begin ASAP and that the board should begin petitioning the Mayor & Board of Aldermen for funding. Mr. Manuel said the cost of construction per square foot could be determined but there are unknown costs surrounding land acquisition and elevation. He also said that the city is currently scouting for land in south Germantown to build a new school. The board also discussed the possibility of securing capital funding from the county commission and the need to address many issues of our aging school buildings.
The board also has plans for yet another special meeting where it will vote on the above items The specially called meeting will take place on August 19th prior to the work session.