Option 9 - 9th Grade Center

  • Schools would be structured as follows:

    VHHS: 10th - 12th
    Pizitz: 9th
    Berry: 6th - 8th
    LP Middle: 6th - 8th
    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 ensures parity of instructional and extracurricular opportunities for all 9th graders.
    • Transportation is more convenient by requiring transportation from one 9th grade campus located near VHHS.
    • It integrates all 9th grade students into one VHHS class.
    • 9th graders will be separated from 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
    • The success of 9th graders can be the sole focus of the administration and faculty at the 9th grade center.
    • It maintains the current middle school structure (6-8).
    • Classroom additions to the Berry campus and Liberty Park Middle School would not be required.
    • It provides the potential for more athletic fields at Berry.
    • The proximity of Pizitz to the high school facilitates both extracurricular and academic offerings.
    • It ensures parity of opportunities for 9th graders across the district.
    • It provides more of a “high school” mindset (both culturally and academically) for freshmen in a 9th grade center than if they were added onto a middle school.
    • It would consolidate 9th grade personnel compared to the split 9th grade plans.
    • The additional space at Pizitz would provide the possibility for additional programs in the future.
    • Traffic at the high school would be decreased by moving 9th graders off campus.
    • Compared to the other two options, Plan 9 is the least expensive in terms of estimated staffing, operating costs, and construction.
    • Traffic congestion in the Pizitz area would be reduced by having one grade instead of three.
    • 9th graders would have less exposure to some of the behavioral and social pressures that are prevalent among older teenagers.
    • The Pizitz campus would become an extension of Vestavia Hills High School, allowing for more options for its best use.

Cons (Blue text reflects cons identified during community engagement meeting on 11/7/17)

    • It creates an additional school transition for students/parents as compared to Plan A.
    • Students will be unable to interact with upper or lower classmen.
    • Some community skepticism/uncertainty exists regarding the success of a 9th grade center.
    • Transportation for Liberty Park parents of 9th graders is less convenient than in Plan A.
    • A classroom addition would be required at Gresham.
    • Commitment and involvement of parents in a one-year school may be limited.

FAQ

  • Q: Would there be a PTO at the 9th grade center?

    If this option is chosen, the high school PTO and administration would address this question.

     

    Q: What would be done about 9th graders who are taking advanced courses?

    The proximity of Pizitz to the high school would make it easier to address this need by utilizing the same personnel as the high school and/or purposeful scheduling.

     

    Q: Would the timeframe for moving to the new structure change under this option?

    No. Hoar Program Management and Lathan and Associates Architects advise that any of the three options can be completed in time for the opening of school in the fall of 2019.

     

    Q: What would be the traffic impact on Dolly Ridge Road if Gresham becomes a K-5 Vestavia Hills school?

    Hoar Program Management would engage a traffic study engineer, similar to what has occurred recently with Vestavia Hills High School and Berry, to ensure that an efficient traffic plan is developed and implemented.

     

    Q: Would the Gresham Elementary School property need to be annexed into Vestavia Hills?

    Yes.

     

    Q: What would happen to the VISION School?

    There are a number of programs and staff in the school system which are currently inadequately housed. When appropriate, it may make sense to use unoccupied space at Pizitz to meet the needs of those programs.

     

    Q: Would there be staggered start times?

    As is the case now, staggered start times would be implemented when appropriate or desirable as determined by the principals involved.

     

    Q: Would a 9th grade center at Pizitz make it possible for 9th graders to participate in certain high school activities, such as pep rallies, plays, concerts, and social events?

    Yes. Current Vestavia Hills High School principal, Dr. Tyler Burgess, says such interactions between students at the 9th grade center and the high school would be possible if all freshmen are together at Pizitz.

     

    Q: What would be the names of the various new campuses being operated by the school system?

    Once the Board has made its decision on school restructuring in December, it will take up the issue of naming at some point in the future.

     

    Q: How are we incorporating student voice into the conversations?

    Dr. Mason is currently working with middle and high school administrators to engage students in school restructuring discussions. In addition, students may take the online survey.

     

    Q: How are we incorporating faculty and staff voice into the conversations?

    Employees have the same opportunity as community members do to attend public engagement meetings and complete the online survey. In addition, they will be discussing these issues with their principals.

     

    Q: Is there research that supports the concept of a 9th grade center?

    Yes. In the process of considering these options, several articles have been identified that support the potential benefits of a 9th grade center. You can access two of the articles by clicking here and here. We have also looked into how other high schools are implementing this concept. Ultimately, however, it would be critical for Vestavia Hills to develop its own vision consistent with what would work best in this community.

     

    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: What would we do with the extra space at Pizitz if it were to be used for 9th graders only?

    There are a number of programs and staff in the school system which are currently inadequately housed. When appropriate, it may make sense to use unoccupied space at Pizitz to meet the needs of those programs.

     

    Q: How close is Gresham to Vestavia Hills High School?

    Gresham is 2.3 miles from Vestavia Hills High School.

     

    Q: Given the cost savings of this option, would the school system revisit transportation (such as buses or shuttles) if this option were adopted?

    The Board and next Superintendent will decide whether to take this under consideration if Option 9 is adopted.

     

    Q: Would VHHS students or teachers be required to travel to different campuses to address academic needs?

    This would be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration each individual class and the needs of the students and teachers.

     

    Q: Would the 9th grade center have an independent faculty/staff, or would they be shared with Vestavia Hills High School?

    The 9th grade center’s faculty, staff, and administrative team would be considered an extension of Vestavia Hills High School.