In a special Board meeting held last night May 29, the Stevenson-Carson School Board voted unanimously to accept the first recommendation of the Quality Schools Task Force -- which would reconfigure and align preschool through sixth grade classes in the same buildings -- but opted to hold off implementing the change until the 2008-09 school year.
The Quality Schools Task Force had recommended the change happen with the start of the 2007-08 school year.
The Board took no action on the second part of the recommendation that called for the consolidation of district facilities into three campuses instead of the existing four at some point in the future.
With more than 50 people in attendance, the board first heard the recommendations and rationale from members of the Quality Schools Task Force -- a group convened by the Board 18 months ago comprised of community members, parents, staff and neighboring school districts -- to examine the district's finances, school facilities and student configuration.
The Task Force's reconfiguration recommendation called for moving the district's two elementary schools from the current status of Carson Elementary housing preschool through sixth grade classes and Stevenson Elementary housing kindergarten through sixth grade classes to:
Preschool through second grade classes at Stevenson Elementary School; and
Third through sixth grade classes at Carson Elementary.
Seventh and eighth grades remain at Wind River Middle School; and
Ninth through 12th grades remain at Stevenson High School.
While the board members heard nearly unanimous public testimony from parents and staff about the positive educational and social benefits of housing all students in the same grade level at the same school, they also heard that it might be difficult to smoothly implement the change in three months.
The board opted to take a full school year to plan the shift to ensure that transportation plans could be in place to minimize the time students spend on buses, staff could adequately prepare for the physical move and had time to coordinate curriculum, parents could adjust commute and day care plans, and infrastructure modifications such as classrooms and additional facilities changes could be adequately completed.
There were also a few parents who expressed an inconvenience in having their children in multiple buildings throughout the district.
"We are very appreciative of the time, study and dedication of the Quality Schools Task Force members. While we understand the educational benefits being proposed, we want to make these changes in a thoughtful manner that also ensures the maximum success for students, families, staff and our collective community infrastructure. By taking a full school year to plan for this, we will honor the work of the Task Force, but also have the time to adequately study all the circumstances that accompany a change like this," said Stevenson-Carson School Board Chair Scott Pineo.
The board will continue discussions on the reconfiguration in future School Board meetings. The next regular meeting is June 14.