By Anna McFall
Trussville’s Board of Education has announced the meeting times for the two Public Forum meetings being held in consideration of the proposed site for a new school.
The first forum will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24 at noon in the Board Room of Central Office, located at 113 North Chalkville Road.
The second Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center of Hewitt-Trussville High School.
The town-hall style meetings come after a recent recommendation to build a new elementary school for Trussville’s school system. For more information on the committee meeting, click here.
The new elementary school will be located on Mary Taylor Road, off of Highway 11, near the Hidden Trace and South Magnolia subdivisions, if the BOE accepts the recommendation of the steering committee. The two sites under consideration were the old middle school, located next to the football stadium, which sits on six acres and the 39-acre site located on Mary Taylor Road.
If approved, the new elementary school will relieve the overcrowding of the Paine schools and eliminate modular buildings, which have housed students since before the city system separated from Jefferson County seven years ago. Currently, there are 300 children in portables at the school.
Listed below are some frequently asked questions published in the most recent edition of In The Loop, Trussville School System’s newsletter. These issues and more will be addressed in the January meetings.
Q: Why do we need a new school?
Currently, Paine Primary School houses 22 preschool students and 891 kindergarten through second grade students. There are 5 portable classrooms on site. Without portable classrooms, this school’s capacity is 774 students.
Currently, Paine Intermediate School houses 941 third through fifth grade students. There are 8 portable classrooms on site. Without portable classrooms, this school’s capacity is 785 students.
Current K-5 students plus preschool is 1854; Current capacity at the Paine Schools is 1559, with 295 students in portable classrooms
Q: What requirements for space are needed for an elementary school?
The state recommends 12 acres of land for a school of 800 students.
Sites being considered: The Magnolia South Property is 39 acres and the old middle school property is 6.4 acres (school site and does not include stadium and field).
Q: Why not renovate or build for a 4th/5th grade school instead of another K-5?
An Administrative Planning Meeting was held on August 29, 2012 to consider options for the new elementary school. The option of creating a 4th/5th school was discussed at length. Administrators unanimously agreed that only staying two years in a school before moving on to the next was not long enough.
Teachers/Administrators preferred more time with students to learn strengths and weaknesses and then be able to put into action the necessary supports to address those identified needs. Surrounding schools systems have actually moved away from the concept of segmented grade level schools in favor of traditional configurations that have students transitioning typically no more than 3 times.
With a proposed 4/5 school, students could conceivably transition 5 times while enrolled in Trussville City Schools. Those transitions mean new administrations, new teachers, and new processes to learn with not a lot of time for students to make meaningful and lasting connections. Administrators agreed that there is great communication between schools but that having students in one building for the length of their elementary career provides more continuity for students and opportunities for teachers to know them well. In addition, a parent could have children in three to five different schools; pick up and drop off could be difficult.
On a final note, creating another grade level school would also add another set of buses in the neighborhoods
. Many neighborhoods have Paine buses, HTMS buses, and HTHS buses running through their neighborhood. The addition of a 4th/5th school would have a 4th set of buses running through the same neighborhood. The Administrative Planning Team concluded that TCS needs an additional K-5 or K-6 school to house approximately 800 students on 12- 20 acres of land to build a school.
Q: Why are you surveying the community for preschool age children?
TCS has a population map that is updated on a weekly basis. The map includes current K-4 students mapped by their address in one color dot on the map and the responses to the survey (preschool age children) mapped by their ad-dress in another color dot on the map. By mapping the current and upcoming student population, TCS can ensure that the new school, wherever the site, is built large enough to serve the needs of Trussville.
Q: Are there zoning lines yet? Will employees with students on transfer be allowed to choose which school their child attends.
No zone lines yet. Once there is an approved site for a new elementary school, TCS will work with the Federal Court to approve zone lines. Employee students on transfer will be addressed at that time.
Q: Will the planned elementary school be of the same quality and caliber of the Paine Schools?
Absolutely! The superintendent and Board Members are committed to ensure that the new school is equivalent to the caliber of the Paine Schools. In fact, the new school will have a few extra features including a covered bus drop off area, a covered playground, a stage in the cafeteria and gyms, and a hardened FEMA approved shelter that will hold the entire school in one area during storms.
Q: What is the cost of a new school compared to renovating the old middle school?
The estimate from the feasibility study was approximately $15.9 million dollars for new school construction and $16.8 million dollars to renovate the old middle school.
According to Superintendent Dr. Neill, the committee will make a recommendation to the board early in 2013.
“As we go forward, the committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Education in February,” Neill said.