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School Board Looks At Overcrowding Tonight

Kindergarten class sizes are getting larger at Williamsburg Elementary and the board will consider options to solve the problem at a special meeting tonight at 7 p.m.

A special meeting of the Board of Education is tonight at 7 p.m. at Coultrap, 1113 Peyton St. to address issues of kindergarten class sizes at Williamsburg Elementary School and possible bussing to other schools.

Parents received a letter dated June 26 from District 304 that enrollment numbers are at 25 and 26 students for kindergarten class sections. The board will consider whether to bus some of those students to either Western Avenue Elementary School or Heartland Elementary School for the 2012-2013 school year. 

Other considerations the board will discuss to solve the overcrowding problem are to add an instructional aide at Williamsburg, reassign students to Western or Heartland, or add an additional class section to Williamsburg. 

John R July 13, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Another capacity issue which will eventually need to be addressed is that the high school is maxed out. Thirty teachers teaching out of carts. Is it time to consider portable classrooms? Rice
BB July 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM
John, if you look at the enrollment numbers of the classes in the pipeline, you'll see that while the HS is overcapacity right now - the numbers will be getting smaller and smaller as time goes by.
Bob McQuillan July 13, 2012 at 05:49 PM
John There you go again, stating things that aren't true. The high school IS NOT maxed out and there are not 30 teachers teaching off of carts. I asked the principal and yes, like every high school, some teachers use carts. That is the nature of what they teach. The principal did not verify your number of 30. If it is maxed out then send the 9th graders to the middle schools, there is plenty of room there. Building and spending money is not the only answer.
John R July 13, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Bob, There you go again! I never said anything about building or spending money. I'm just pointing out that this is an issue that may need to be addressed in the future. Grosso said as much a few meetings ago. That's why they want the Coultrap land. It is a fact that the high school is at capacity. The plans are on file for a rather extensive expansion. At this time I do not support an expansion. But in the future portable classrooms maybe a viable option. Unless of course as BB speculates the numbers come down with time. In which case we should be good. I thought I meant nothing to you? If that's the case why do you feel compelled to cyber stoke me? It does not go unnoticed that you follow every single one of my post. If you have such a huge following let some of the other TaxFact's folks make the case and harass me from time to time. From what I've seen from your group they are more than capable of mixing it up. John
Geneva Non-parent July 13, 2012 at 07:20 PM
According to a TaxFACT's document, (http://www.genevataxfacts.org/attachments/article/55/Building%20utilization%20In-Depth%20Analysis.pdf) as of Dec. 2010 the High School was at 107.6% of capacity. Clearly there are some differing definitions of terms in this discussion.
BB July 13, 2012 at 07:20 PM
John, here's some data from the genevataxfacts.org site (which is a pretty good source of info, even if you don't like Bob M) http://www.genevataxfacts.org/attachments/article/45/Building%20Utilization%20-%20Quick%20Summary.pdf The data is from 2010, but it appears that last year the school had about 1947 kids total, and it looks like we'll see 1911, 1891 and 1858 over the next 3 years. That's assuming there isn't a big housing boom taking place anytime soon - which doesn't seem likely. Actually, I think we may see even more decline as more people leave the state for better employment prospects and lower tax burdens, but that's a topci for a different day.
Bob McQuillan July 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM
You did talk about spending money because portable classrooms aren't free. I responded because what you said was wrong and needed to be corrected. I have spoken to a long-term teacher at the high school and he said that the capacity at the high school is actually 2,000 not 1,800 as the district reports. An expansion in the 1970's, I believe, took the total capacity to 2,000. That really doesn't matter though because the board now wants to talk in terms of "programs offered" instead of traditional classrooms and capacity. It's like you have a 6 bedroom house, you only need 4 bedrooms but because you have 6 you put in two extra beds. You don't need the space but since you have it you use it. That is exactly what they are doing at the elementary level, using the space just because it is there, and calling it "programs offered." Check out this link and look at the rooms used as "traditional" vs. "program" classrooms https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=32565751 When you finally post something that is correct, I won't "cyber stroke" you. I Don't follow you, I receive updates to comments on articles I comment on. You know that because you get the same e-mails.
Thomas July 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
What I find interesting in all of this is when information on the taxfacts site actually contradicts one of your arguments we are suddenly supposed to ignore that information and listen to a "long time high school teacher" you spoke to? And how are we supposed to believe this person is any more credible than the district itself. This is why enrollmentgate is so damaging to the board and the district. From this point forward anyone who disagrees with the school board or district can use a "conversation" to support a position against them. Please clarify your position on "programs offered". Based on your metaphor these are like extra beds that you only need because you have extra space. So one can assume a population of students (i.e. gifted, special ed., ESL) are benefitting from these programs and do you know for sure they can still be offered if the space was not available? Would you propose no longer offering those programs if the space was taken away? What do you do with the kids who are no longer being served? Are you saying that all students needs can be met in "traditional" classrooms only. Are we to believe that your mastery of all things taxes also extends into the areas of pedagogy and instructional programming? Just asking.
John R July 14, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Thomas, Good point. My position on the capacity issue is that I don't think we would ever want our schools at 100%. It seems to me that ideally we'd want the levels in the mid 80% range. That would allow for some flexibility from year to year in respects to enrollment numbers and would also allow for space to add programming. In five or ten years we will probably have to take a look at the High School. It really is bursting at the seams. The community would like to see more AP classes but I'm not sure that we can even expand that curriculum given the current space restrictions. But the High School is really a debate for another time. Nothing needs to happen there for a while and maybe if we ignore it it'll go away. :) John Rice
Bob McQuillan July 15, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Thomas All good questions that the administration or board needs to answer because they are the ones (administration especially) who run the schools on a day-to-day basis. The administration should provide a grid to the public that shows each school, what classrooms they have and what they are used for on a daily basis. Their "programs offered" is a very vague category. Are there 3 students being helped, are there 15 or are there 25? All I know is that every elementary school in the past provided a good quality education with the classrooms available. The last document the district provided on elementary capacity back in December of 2010 showed that there were over 800 "empty seats" at the elementary level. That is more than 1.5 schools at a capacity of 500 students per school. I don't claim to know instructional programming, I just know that when you have less students in schools that use to hold more, you have excess capacity. Excess capacity means excess costs. As to your AP classes, there is space within the district to provide for these classes. At the same time, parents should pay additional "tuition" for these classes. The main reason (not the only but main) why kids and parents want these classes is to receive college credit if they receive a 3 or higher on the exam. Why should all taxpayers pay so that some can save college tuition in the future? You want it, you pay for it.
Thomas July 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Sorry to be so inquisitive Bob but I have a few more questions. You say that you "knew that every elementary school in the past provided a good quality education with the classrooms available" So exactly how did you "know" this? Did the district once provide these "grids" you ask for? I have to admit I am a little concerned about your "user fee" proposal or the "You want it, you pay for it" financing model. You have done a nice job in your posts of convincing us that the taxes are so high in Geneva that people are either fleeing from Geneva or wouldn't dare consider moving here. So do I understand correctly that one of your solutions to this problem would be to increase the financial burden even more on the Genevans with school aged kids and especially those with the bright ones? Would you apply user fees to all "non-required" courses? Would you increase the current fees of students who are in sports and other extra-curriculars? Would the B. McQuillan, circa 1980's-90's (the one who had kids in the district), have been a happy camper at the board meetings if they proposed jacking up school fees? Despite your admitted lack of instructional programming expertise it is good to know how you feel it should be carried out since it helps informs the voters in the upcoming school board elections should you or your followers run. If the ultimate goal is to turn Geneva into a Del Webb community than you got the right game plan.
Bob McQuillan July 15, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I have always maintained that the Geneva School District provides a good quality education ... by your comment, it appears that you don't agree with that statement. Yes, the district used to supply information on enrollment by capacity of each school. That has stopped. The recent traditional classroom vs. programs offered information was requested by board member Mary Stith. User fees will need to be increased if costs to run those extras continue to increase. Let me ask you this; why are parents willing to pay thousands of dollars for their kids to play on travel teams but not want to play $200-300 for high school sports? Aren't they user user fees?There are costs to offer AP classes, those costs should be paid for those that benefit from those classes. There is no state mandate that AP classes have to be offered. The good thing about GenevaTaxFACTS is that we all speak for ourselves unlike the school board whose policy is for the board president to speak for the entire group. I have a question for you Thomas: Do you believe expenses should be reduced? If you believe that the tax levy should increase every year to the maximum, then we will never agree on the direction of the Geneva Community School District. You speak your mind and I'll speak mine.
Thomas July 15, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Bob, Yes, like you, I agree that the district provides a good quality education. I also would welcome finding meaningful ways to reduce expenses that would maintain that quality going forward. I think that random "across the board" 5% cuts over the next three years is in the best interests of those who feel they pay too much in property taxes but I don't think it considers the impact on the quality of the school district. I don't think that people paying for their kids on travel teams are always the ones complaining about athletic fees. They pay thousands because they can afford to. Some parents have their kids play park district sports. Under your system the only kids who would be able to participate are the ones with ability and parents with the means to pay. What happens to that kid who is a bright A.P. student that wants to play multiple sports i.e. baseball, basketball, track & field. His parents better have some cash or their out of luck. You might have forgotten to answer one of my other questions? Would you have been supportive of the school board increasing user fees back when your kids were in sports and taking AP classes?

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