David Ulrich: Additional information offered on elementary school closure
I am aware the prospect of closing an elementary school continues to garner much attention in our community. As such, I would like to provide you with the most up-to-date information.
During the MCSD Board of Education meeting Oct. 26, representatives from the Blythe Group presented nine scenarios for closing an elementary school. Each elementary school in Craig has at least two scenarios in which closure is a possibility. Pros and cons of the scenarios were covered, as well. Grade reconfiguration remains a consideration in three of the scenarios. The two documents presented to the board of education can be found on the district website — moffatsd.org — in the “School Closure” window. The documents contain more detailed information regarding grade configuration and the approach to redrawing boundaries for each scenario.
During community meetings held in late September, two issues were raised by parents and community members that warrant follow up.
First, is the Yampa Avenue Administration Building being considered as a candidate for closure? While not originally considered, the Blythe group has now included this possibility as part of all the scenarios. The board of education was presented with details about closing the admin building during the most recent meeting. According to the Blythe Group consultants, the administration building is more marketable than the elementary schools. District supports would then move to the vacated neighborhood elementary school. There would be several advantages to keeping the vacated school occupied. Chief among these would be maintaining the building in the event MCSD enrollment rebounds and begins to grow again. The district would still realize significant operational savings in the reduction of staff.
The second issue raised during the community meetings involved the Maybell School. I have received several inquiries regarding Maybell and why it hasn’t been included among the school closure scenarios. Given Maybell’s 2-year enrollment trend (17 students for 2017-18), Maybell is the most efficient building in the district. In addition to the state’s per-pupil funding received for our students at Maybell, the state also provides a Small Attendance Area payment. That funding, coupled with the relatively low overhead of running the building, means the district would realize minimal to no savings in operational costs as a result of its closure.
I would like to highlight a couple of additional items. First, no decision or conclusion has been reached regarding which building will close. Blythe is on schedule to bring a recommendation to the board in December. At that point, the board of education will have the opportunity to vote to accept the recommendation. Second, as stated above, consideration is being given to close the admin building and move district supports and early childhood/preschool to the closed elementary. The Blythe Group is considering 19 separate factors to help determine the building that makes the least amount of sense in which to reinvest. The detailed list can be found in the slides at the link provided above.
David Ulrich is superintendent of Moffat County School District.