The Swanton Board of Education voted Wednesday to table a building reconfiguration plan presented by Superintendent Jeff Schlade. The board will revisit the plan in November.
The plan called for moving students out of the current middle school beginning in the 2016-17 school year, due to continuing concerns with the boilers and the overall condition of the building. With the tabling of the issue, the move would not happen until at least the 2017-18 school year.
Under the plan, seventh and eighth grade students would move to the high school. The seventh and eighth grade teachers would have been on the west side of the building with the 9-12 teachers mostly on the east side of the building.
Crestwood School would house grades 4-6 and Park School would house preschool through third grade students. The switch would be made in the elementary schools because grades PK-3 would not fit at Crestwood.
“It’s a very sound way to have your primary school configured,” Schlade said of putting PK-3 together in the same building.
Some board members said the plan seemed academically sound but questioned if there was enough time.
“My first concern is the time frame,” said Board President Steve Brehmer. “I’m sure it could happen, but I’m not sure it could happen as seamlessly and as efficiently as we’d like it to happen.”
Board member David Smith also worried about the time it would take to move buildings and get settled. He added that it “looked like there wasn’t enough room (to move the three middle school grades into other buildings).”
Board member Kris Oberheim also expressed some hesitation. “In some eyes it might be black and white but in my eyes there is a lot of gray.” And she also was concerned about keeping students in the middle school building and spending money that is wasteful.
Superintendent Jeff Schlade recommended the move to the board. He met with the Full Administrative Management Team, the Swanton Education Association President and building staffs, spoke with board members, and had follow-up conversations with principals before recommending the reconfiguration.
When looking into space available in the district, he discovered that at this time the use of modular buildings would not be necessary if the middle school was closed. That, coupled with the February shutdown of a boiler at the middle school, helped to precipitate the discussions about possibly re-configuring the buildings for next school year.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010
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