As a letter grade A district, families are choosing to move to and raise their children in a community committed to its schools. This success brings growing pains, which have evolved into challenges: maintaining reasonable class sizes and at the same time providing the needed classroom space.
Challenge No. 1: Our elementary student enrollment exceeds capacity. Class sizes are monitored to provide adequate time for student-teacher interaction. Continued growth is anticipated not only from the five active construction sites in Perry Township for single- family homes, duplexes and apartments but also from new families moving into existing homes.
Our short-term approach to solving the overcrowding issues has been to rent trailers to be used as temporary classrooms. You may not realize it, but 26 trailers are being used as classrooms at Lincoln, Burkhart, Clinton Young, Glenns Valley, Homecroft, Mary Bryan and Southport elementary schools. The vast majority have been installed behind the main school buildings and are not readily visible.
Teachers and parents have raised concerns with the trailers because they do not offer the security provided by the school buildings. There is merely a locked door to each trailer.
Severe weather is also cause for concern. For example, as I write this column, we are moving all pupils out of the trailers and into the buildings. Children must enter and exit the school multiple times every day through all weather conditions for lunch, restroom breaks and classes such as art, music and physical education.
Challenge No. 2: Winchester Village Elementary is an open-space concept school, which means there are no walls or doors between the “classrooms.” The areas are simply separated by mobile dividers. Our goal is to install walls and doors to solve security and instructional concerns.
Challenge No. 3: Band and orchestra enrollment continues to climb at Southport 6th Grade Academy and Southport Middle School, with no space to meet the instructional needs. Trailers have been installed at this campus until permanent band and orchestra classrooms can be built.
Challenge No. 4: The transportation and capital projects fund is used to transport students and clean, maintain and repair facilities. Additional students require additional buses and drivers. Additional classrooms require more custodians.
The board of education will conduct public meetings at 6:30 p.m. Mondays, April 20, and 27 at Southport and Perry Meridian high schools, respectively, to propose solutions to the challenges. There will also be time for questions.
Thank you for supporting Perry Township Schools. Strong schools reflect a strong community.