The Lakewood Board of Education at its Sept. 17 meeting approved the recommendation by Superintendent Jeff Patterson to delay the closing of one of the district’s seven elementary schools.
In August, Patterson had presented to the Board Census and other data that indicated that the district will likely continue its recent trend of growing enrollment, particularly at the K-2 level. At Monday’s meeting, he provided further data that made it clear that the district cannot close an elementary school without significantly impacting elementary classroom sizes, which currently stand at an average of 22 students per class. The projected larger enrollment numbers and the newer information that showed current classroom usage versus projected usage with only six schools convinced the Board that maintaining operation of seven schools was in the best interest of our students.
"It continues to be a delicate balancing act to keep our community priorities intact (lower class sizes) while being fiscally responsible," said Patterson.
The Board plans to maintain operating seven elementary schools until the District enters Phase III of the Facilities Master Plan.
The original recommendation to close a school was part of a budget reduction resolution passed in May that accounted for more than $8 million in cuts over this school year and next. As part of those cuts, the district reduced the number of media specialists in the district from 8 to 1.
Nearly a month into the school year, the impact of this specific reduction has been significant. Because of this, Patterson informed the Board that due in part to a larger than expected carryover for fiscal year 2011-2102, two media specialists, one for each middle school, have been recalled.
The carryover of $1.4 million also allowed a middle school science teacher, a health teacher and a computer assistant at Lakewood City Academy to be recalled. With those recalls, all those who lost jobs in the reduction have been re-employed by the district. Administration will continue to monitor operations going forward.
The carryover was a result of many factors, including lower health care premium increases than forecast, utility costs from a mild winter and greater efficiencies realized than planned from the more than $20 million in cuts the district has made over the past decade.