Some processes were easily decided and others will take multiple meetings in the lead up to the release of an implementation plan for the reconfiguration of the Mexico School District No. 59 elementary schools, said Superintendent Zach Templeton at Tuesday’s school board meeting. One possible avenue for transportation could affect the entire district, and not just the elementary schools.
“Some of these things were able to iron themselves out in one meeting, and we kind of know what we’re going to do,” he said. “The thing we’re trying to work out with transportation in particular, is I’m in favor of a staggered start.”
Staggered start times would mean the elementary schools would start more or less at the time they’re starting now, while sixth through 12th grade would have a start time roughly 30 minutes later.
“All the literature tells us older kids need more sleep, they need to start later in the day and so we’re looking at that. … You get to kind of use your buses twice. So, we might create some efficiency there, but you also are going to have to potentially travel the same roads twice, which creates some inefficiency,” Templeton said.
There is a significant amount of bus riders within three miles of buildings, he said. Routes could be modified between town and rural areas. So, a driver could do an elementary route in town for the one start time, while doing a rural upper grades route for the later start time, or vice versa.
The main factors with ongoing discussions include teacher placement, transportation and relocation of materials, supplies and equipment at the three buildings. The board approved in December for the district to move forward with drafting a reconfiguration implementation plan , which will make McMillan Elementary into a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten grade center and Hawthorne Eugene Field Elementary schools into first- through fifth-grade neighborhood schools.
McMillan may require minor changes, such as lowering some equipment used by students so it can be used at their heights, but major construction needs are not expected at the school, Templeton said. As for teacher placements, the faculty has been surveyed on which grade level they would prefer to teach, along with which building they would prefer, he said.
“I have told (kindergarten teachers) that we can’t allow all of our kindergarten teachers to bump up a grade level and leave us with all brand new kindergarten teachers. Unless it’s one or two, they’re all probably going to have to go (to McMillan),” Templeton said.
The district also reviewed general operations at the first- through fifth-grade buildings and the pre-k, kindergarten buildings; English language learners; meal and health services; student registration; technology; and student transfers.
He said letters are expected to be released soon on school assignments for students. Templeton did not say when letters would be mailed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Teachers will know their room assignments before contracts are renewed, he said. First- through fifth-graders who went to McMillan may be placed at Eugene Field or Hawthorne, while some students who previously may have attended Eugene Field or Hawthorne may change schools based on where they reside.
“We have some kids who we believe are, in their educational best interest, to stay where they are at, regardless of where they live, because their needs are being met at the school that they’re at, and a transition would be detrimental,” Templeton said. “For that population of parents who just want to go to a different school, we’re kind of leaning toward not following that practice as we have in the past. At least until we get normalized.”
The district is looking to place students who are English language learners at their respective neighborhood schools. Hawthorne will likely have a larger population of those students, when compared to Eugene Field, Templeton said.
The district has one more month before it will bring its proposed implementation plan to the board at its March 19 meeting. “Let us know what you need from us in terms of support or encouragement. … This has to go well,” board President Dustin Pascoe said.