Option S - Split 6-7 / 8-9
Schools would be structured as follows:
VHHS: 10th - 12th
LP Middle: 6th - 9th
Berry: 6th - 7th
Pizitz: 8th - 9th
Gresham: K - 5th
VHEE: K - 5th
VHEW: K - 5th
VHELP: K - 5th
VHECH: K - 5th
Pros (Blue text reflects pros identified during community engagement meeting on 11/7/17)
- It alleviates overcrowding at VHHS.
- It accommodates projected growth at all schools.
- It creates room for growth at Berry and Pizitz.
- 6th graders would not be on the same campus as 9th graders on the Highway 31 Corridor.
- It will lessen school traffic on the Highway 31 Corridor.
- Classroom additions to the Berry campus would not be required.
- It provides the potential for more athletic fields at Berry.
- Gresham is currently used as a K-5 school and would be more functional as a K-5 facility than Pizitz.
- Transportation is more convenient for Liberty Park parents of 9th graders than the current 9-12 structure.
- Transportation is more convenient for Cahaba Heights parents of 9th graders than the current structure.
- Traffic at the high school would be decreased by moving 9th graders off campus.
- 9th graders would have less exposure to some of the behavioral and social pressures that are prevalent among older teenagers.
Cons (Blue text reflects cons identified during community engagement meeting on 11/7/17)
- 6th grade students will be in the same building as 9th graders at Liberty Park.
- It creates an additional school change for students/parents during middle school years.
- There will be additional costs in staffing two schools (Berry 6-7 and Pizitz 8-9) instead of one (Berry 6-9).
- A classroom addition would be required at Gresham.
- It will be costly and difficult to provide equitable instructional and extracurricular opportunities across two 9th grade campuses.
- Transportation for 9th graders from Liberty Park and Berry to 9th grade extracurricular activities will be costly and difficult.
- It will delay the integration of 9th grade students into a unified 9th grade class.
- It creates an additional carpool destination for students and parents west of Highway 280 during middle school years.
- Depending on individual student situations, the age span between 6th and 9th graders could be greater than 11-15.
- Parking may become more difficult at Liberty Park Middle School due to the presence of an additional grade.
- The middle schools would not share a common structure.
Q: Has any thought been given to making all elementary schools K-6?
Yes; that option was considered by the Board last year but was not chosen.
Q: Would this plan require rezoning of elementary attendance areas?
Yes. All three options will require rezoning of elementary attendance areas. Once the Board has reached a decision in December regarding the structure of schools, rezoning discussions will begin. As that process proceeds, there would be opportunities for public engagement with a decision anticipated in spring 2018. Any rezoning plan that is adopted by the Board would not take effect until the opening of school in the fall of 2019. While it is understandable that personal preferences for attendance zones are important to individuals, they cannot be the determining factor for school restructuring options that affect all students.
Q: What would be done about 9th graders who are taking advanced courses?
If this option is chosen, this issue would have to be addressed for students at the 8-9 center at Pizitz and for 9th graders at Liberty Park Middle School.
Q: What would be the student-teacher ratios under all three options?
Student-teacher ratios in all three options would be driven by the school system’s goals for class size. By providing adequate classroom space, we expect student-teacher ratios to remain at or below current levels.
Q: What are the relative costs of each of the three options?
The current Board-approved plan is the most expensive in terms of estimated staffing, operating costs, and construction; Option S is approximately $2 million less expensive than the current Board-approved plan; Option 9 is approximately $7 million less expensive than the current Board-approved plan; this is primarily because 9th grade additions would not be required at Berry and Liberty Park Middle.
Q: Can construction at Gresham begin while Jefferson County Schools continues to use the school for its own students in 2018-19?
Yes. The ability to begin construction at Gresham is a part of the contract being considered by both Boards of Education.