LPS Overcrowding Issue

Lexington Public Schools Enrollment & Overcrowding Issues

 

**January 11, 2015 Post**

Dear Bowman families,

Please see below for some important updates on the progress of the master building plan for the Lexington Public School District.

Last Thursday night the Ad Hoc School Master Planning Committee had a public meeting to discuss the draft of the Phase III final report presented by SMMA.

Ad Hoc Master Planning Committee – a sub-committee to the School Committee made up of a group of members of town boards that are working with SMMA to develop options for a master plan to recommend
SMMA – the architectural firm hired to develop a master plan for Lexington’s school space needs

At this meeting, the Ad Hoc committee voted in favor of a number of building projects for adding capacity to meet our school district’s enrollment needs.  These recommended projects will be presented to the school committee for a discussion on Tuesday (Jan 13) evening.

**In order for the School Committee to act on any of these recommendations in time for Special Town Meeting this Spring, they must have a proposal of recommended projects agreed and voted on by January 20th

The Recommendation of the Ad Hoc School Master Plan Committee was the following:

Bowman Pre-Fabricated addition of 2 classrooms & music room ~$3.1million
Bridge Pre-Fabricated addition of 2 classrooms & music room ~$3.7million
Harrington Brick and mortar additions of 6 classrooms, music, art, expansion of cafeteria, relocated gym, special education space, expanded pre-K rooms to legally meet program needs (capacity 600+) ~$24.3 million
Hastings New 4.5 section school to be built on site– similar to Estabrook (capacity 600+) ~$59 million
Fiske No changes to the school site
Estabrook No changes to the school site
Clarke Pre-Fabricated addition of 5 classrooms (increase capacity by 1 team) ~$4.6million
Diamond  Pre-fab and Brick and mortar additions to expand capacity by 2 teams ~$23million

**Please understand the costs are preliminary estimates and not actual costs.

Friday morning (1/9) Bowman Site Council this morning voted unanimously to a statement supporting the recommended plan for the district and for Bowman School

 

Timeline of important details for Bowman

For 2015-2016 under this plan

  • Bowman would remain the same size and there are not currently any plans for short term redistricting
  • Dr, Anton has reassured parents at the recent site council meeting that the earlier proposal for splitting the gym for use as a Music Room and PE space is “off the table” and will not happen.  Other ways for space mining are under consideration for space and programs.  There is no plan to compromise Art, PE, or Music space, and the school is exploring options for alternative use of smaller spaces for smaller programs.

For 2016-2017 if the recommendations for Bowman are approved by this Spring at Special Town Meeting:

  • High Quality pre-fabricated modular classrooms would be available to support growing enrollment
  • Bowman would have sufficient space to house students based on current enrollment projections.

After 2016/17 school year – “Right-size Bowman and Bridge”

  • Redistricting to reduce the student population at Bowman and Bridge will take place when space is created at other school sites.  For Bowman, it is most likely that students would be redistricted to Harrington and possibly Hastings.
    • When will redistricting happen? Unknown.  Most likely within 4-7  years.
    • How much will the population be reduced by?  Currently, SMMA has suggested 532 students based on Bowman and Bridge becoming a 4 section school.  That means 4 classes per grade level (18 kindergarten kids/class & 23 students/class in grades 1-5). However, that decision will be up to a ‘redistricting committee’ in the future.
  • In addition to reducing the population at Bowman and Bridge, the proposed pre-fab additions will allow the gym and other spaces in the school to be expanded.  The cost of internally reconfiguring space to increase core areas (gym/cafeteria/library) is $6 million per school.  This plan has not yet been recommended to the school committee though they are aware of it.

NEXT STEPS are the role of the school committee.  They will have to vote on the recommendations by their Jan 20thmeeting in order get a Special Town Meeting to act on the requests by this Spring.

Though these projects are necessary to build capacity to meet our enrollment needs, the bill for construction is high.  It will take a strong and united front from us parents to persuade our town members to vote in favor of having these solutions passed.  Please attend this Tuesday’s meeting if possible or write to your school committee member to express what you support.
Upcoming meetings

The school committee will meet on Tuesday, Jan 13th and will take comments from the public.  This is your opportunity to be heard so please attend if this is important to you.

1/13/2015 7:30 PM ET  School Committee

Town Office Bldg- Selectmen Meeting Room- 1625 Mass Ave–Agenda

1/15/2015 8:00 AM ET  School Committee

Joint meeting with the Ad hoc School Master Planning Committee @ School Administration Bldg, Upper Level Conference Room, 146 Maple St AGENDA

1/15/2015 7:00 PM ET (Budget Collaboration/Summit) Board of Selectmen

Joint Meeting with Board of Selectmen, Appropriation Committee, Capital Expenditures Committee and School Committee – FUTURE DATE

1/20/2015 7:30 PM ET (*FUTURE DATE* ) School Committee

 

1/22/2015 8:00 AM ET  School Committee

Joint meeting with the Ad hoc School Master Planning Committee @ School Administration Bldg, Upper Level Conference Room, 146 Maple St AGENDA

 

**November 16th Post**

Dear Bowman Community,

The School Committee met several times this week to prepare their request to the Board of Selectmen (BoS), for a special town meeting (STM) in January 2015, requesting funds (up to $2.5 million) to install up to six temporary (3 year lease) modulars at Bridge, Bowman, and Fiske.  They will present this request this Monday (11/17) at the town meeting.

At the advice of the Board of Selectmen (BoS) and in order to get their request approved, the School Committee was asked to respond to the following questions:

§  What is the problem?

§  What is the solution?

§  Why that solution?

 Here are the SC answers so far:

1.- What is the problem?

Most LPS schools are at or over capacity based on the architect’s firm SSMA Phase I report and the situation will get worse over next five years if they don’t add space starting YR2015.

2.- What is the solution?

According to the SC, there is an urgency to get at least 6 modulars in place for YR2015 and some redistricting from Fiske to Estabrook until the long term solution is ready (according to them, this could not happen before January 2018), to cope with the increased enrollment in the next two years.

  • This would mean adding two “standard lease-to-own” modulars to Bowman, Bridge and Fiske. Since they are not sure of how long it would take for the master plan to be ready, the modulars could stay there for the next 10 years (lifespan of standard modulars).

  • Redistricting Fiske students to Estabrook if only one modular or no modulars are added to Fiske.

3.- Why that solution?

According to the SC, LPS will need 12 extra elementary classrooms throughout the system to accommodate increased enrollment, but the main goal would be to get extra 24 classrooms in five years to give schools flexibility and secure dedicated classrooms for the specialists.

Therefore, adding leased standard modular would be a necessary start towards the goal, since the long term would most likely be a combination of brick and mortar and modulars and would not be ready before 2018.

What does this mean for Bowman?

  1. Addition of two leased-to-own modulars for 2015

  • Bowman would have two extra classrooms. Gym, art and music programs would not be compromised.

  • The “temporary” modulars would be in place for 3-6 years, be rent to own, or just owned and be “potentially” left in place for use in other ways after the space issue is resolved for YR2015/16.

  • They could and most likely become part of the long term solution.

  • These potentially used, standard modulars would be placed along the corridor built for the existing modulars.

  1. Long Term Plan

  • Bowman most likely will need more than two modulars to cover our need for space over the next 5-6 years.

  • Redistricting will be needed once the space added by the two new modulars is not enough (by YR2017 according to projections report), or we will be back to art or music on a cart, or splitting the gym, or compromising support programs within a year or two.

     We encourage the parents to send their opinions to the Board of Selectmen and other committees:           – Board of Selectman: selectmen@lexingtonma.gov– AppropriationCommittee: appropriationcmte@lexingtonma.gov– Capital Expenditure Committee  capitalexpenditurescmte@lexingtonma.gov– School Committee: school-com@comet.ci.lexington.ma.us

Live streaming of the town meeting will provided by LexMedia (http://www.lexmedia.org/lgtv-government-schedule.html) in case you wish to follow the meeting on Monday.  There will be limited seats so if you wish to watch the meeting, we recommend viewing through LexMedia.

Thank you,

Christina Lin and Patricia Valda

Bowman PTA Co-Presidents

 

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School Committee Meeting Notes, Nov 3rd meeting

 

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**October 31st Post**

Dear Bowman Parents,
The PTA has been following very closely the new information and updates made accessible by the School Committee and the hired architect firm, SMMA, on the overcrowding situation.
The following is a summary of the discussions held at the last two School committee meetings and the presentation of Phase II by SMMA on Thursday, October 30th.
Please note that the SC will take an important vote on November 3 and they need to hear from you to help the make the right decision.
Overview of the Situation: 
  • 8 out of the 9 LPS schools are at/over capacity
  • Clarke Middle School and LHS are at/over capacity
  • LPS will get around 650 new students enrolled in the next five years
  • Around 270 of those 650 will enroll in elementary. Bowman is expected to grow by one section next year.
SMMA presentation of Phase II of the report:
Temporary Short Term Solutions for September 2015/2016
  • Task I: Relocating the Preschool from Harrington to Old Harrington
  • Option 1: Moving and enlarging the capacity of the Preschool from Harrington Elementary to Old Harrington using the whole structure would have a cost of approximately $14,000,000. It would require extensive upgrading and would be ready for Aug. 2016.
  • Option 2: Moving the preschool to part of the old building and adding some prefabricated construction would approximately cost $12,000,000 and be ready for Aug. 2016.
  • Task II: Convert the Preschool space in Harrington to K-5 space
Converting the space formerly occupied by the preschool and bringing it up to code for grades K-5 would have an approximate cost of $345,000.
  • Task III: Leasing modular for Bowman, Bridge and Fiske
Bowman, Bridge and Fiske would each get two modulars on lease for three years (the prices vary per school and range from $706,000 to $900,000 and could be ready by August 2015.)
The modulars at Bowman would be situated in the rear playground and attached to the existing modular corridor connector. Two bathrooms would be installed as well.
**SMMA Phase III will be presented in January. The report will contain Long Term Suggestions to solve the Middle and High School space needs and how to solve the space needs in LPS in general.
Possible Solutions discussed during School Committee meetings:
Possible Short Term Solutions for September 2015
  • Redistricting: Some of Fiske students could be redistricted to Estabrook.
  • Modulars: Bowman, Bridge and/or Fiske would each get two temporary modulars on lease for three years; Special Town meeting in January would be needed to approve financing.
          **Dr. Ash does not recommend temporary modulars as we do not yet have the full report from SMMA and the                                      location and cost of these could prevent the right intermediate and long term solutions for 2016 and beyond.
  • Divide the Bowman Gym into two spaces (Gym and Music) instead of leased modulars.
  • Explore other options for consolidating space at Bowman, Bridge, Fiske
  • Allow class size to increase at Bowman, Bridge, Fiske
Possible Intermediate Solutions for September 2016
Plan to be developed by SMMA and presented in January could include:
  • High quality Modulars: Town meeting in April would have to approve funding
  • Redistricting based on space, need and new construction
  • Pre-School construction at Old Harrington
Possible Long-Term Solutions:
  • Rebuild/replace Hastings (minimum of 5 years to complete).
  • Build a seventh LPS school (Completion of a minimum of 5 years once a the site for the building has been determined and the SOI submitted AND approved)
  • Build a wing or wings on to one or more existing schools.
  • Submit an SOI application to build a new High School (or potentially other schools)
Next steps:
        1. Site Council Meeting, Monday November 3rd, 7:45-8:45 am
Attend the additional site council meeting to Monday so that we have a time to talk about the more recent information prior to the school committee vote on 11/3. This meeting is open to all parents. Opportunities for parent and staff comment may be limited by time.
2. School Committee Meeting, Monday, November 3rd, 7:30pm, Clarke Auditorium (Agenda TBD)
School Committee has to cast a vote on the next steps necessary to address the K-12 space needs. The vote will basically decide:

  • If they ask for an special Town Meeting in January to appropriate money for modular and/or Preschool move to old Harrington. This would fix immediate space needs but may not be in line with the final report of SMMA intermediate and long term solutions.
  • OR if they wait for Phase III of SMMA report, make decisions based on SMMA suggestions and prepare to go to April Town Meeting to appropriate funds for intermediate and long-term solutions.

3. Think about the big picture:   – Overcrowding is not a short-term issue that will affect only your child’s elementary experience.    – Town Meeting needs to approve our needs and LPS may not be on top of the list.   – The common space in schools may become a limiting factor as classroom capacity is added to a school.  HOW CAN I HELP?

  • Attend the additional Site Council meeting on Monday November 3, 2014 at 7:45AM in the Bowman Library.
  • Attend the School Committee Meeting Monday November 3, 2014 at 7:30PM at Clarke Middle School.
  • Email the School Committee with your opinion: school-com@comet.ci.lexington.ma.us
  • Make your voice heard. Keep in mind that Dr. Ash recommendations are just that and the School Committee is the one making the final decision about temporary modulars and overall space planning. The SC will take an important vote on November 3 and they need to hear from you to help the make the right decision.
  • Learn the facts lps.lexingtonma.org/Page/4316
  • Visit our website bowmanpta.org to stay informed
  • Sign up to our online directory to get our weekly updates (Contact us at directory@bowmanpta.org)
  • Email the Lexington Public School Committee school-com@comet.ci.lexington.ma.us
  • Contact Town Meeting Members: tinyurl.com/pdzhkr2

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**October 1st Post **

Special PTA Meeting:

Bowman’s enrollment and capacity concerns

Wednesday, October 22nd, 7 – 8 pm

Bowman School Gym

Join Superintendent Paul Ash, Principal Mary Anton, and School Committee representatives for an update and discussion on possible solutions for the overcrowding at our schools.

Many parents in our community are rightly concerned about the impact of overcrowding in our schools.  This meeting will provide updates on the progress towards addressing the projected increase in enrollment at our schools and give parents an opportunity to learn more about the considerations needed to make the best plan going forward.  The better informed we are, the better we will all be able to support our students and schools.

The future path of Bowman Elementary and the Lexington School System depend on parents coming out and participating in this event. Show your support for our school by attending and spreading the word about the meeting.

Please make every effort to attend this important meeting.  To stay informed please check our link on overcrowding at the PTA website: http://bowmanpta.org/lps-overcrowding-issue/

Thank you for your support and see you there!

Christina Lin and Patricia Valda, PTA Co-Presidents
Dr. Mary Anton, Principal

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**October 1st Post **

Dear Bowman Parents,

Thank you to all the parents that attended Tuesday’s School Committee Meeting and/or our Principal’s Coffee on Wednesday.

We wanted to assure you that our PTA is aware that the latest reports on future enrollment and the overcrowding issues are concerning and that immediate action is necessary to make sure that our children’s education does not suffer.

We are in constant contact and communication about it both with our principal, Dr. Anton and the Lexington School Committee, so we can keep you all informed and educated about our situation.

We believe that we need to have a united front, so we can come up with thoughtful, efficient and viable solutions to overcome the challenges that our schools are facing. Your involvement representing the Bowman community AND the Lexington school system is critical to move short and long-term ideas forward.

Here is a brief summary of the situation presented in the past meetings:

OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION:

• 5 out of the 6 elementary schools are at/over capacity
• Clarke Middle School is at/over capacity
• Lexington High School is at/over capacity
• Enrollment projections indicate that we will have around 650 new students enrolled in the next five years. Around 275 of them will be enrolled in elementary.
• Bridge and Bowman are expected to receive a big percentage of the new enrollments. If the projections are correct, Bowman would need to add additional classrooms (Bowman will grow from 26 to 27 sections for Fall 2015).
• SSMA (the architectural firm hired to assess and propose solutions) will present the Second Phase of their Master Plan in November, which will contain short-term and intermediate space solutions. Long-term solutions will be presented end of December.

Proposed Solutions by Dr. Ash and the School Committee:

Short Term Solutions for September 2015 (HMMA full recommendations not available in time for these):

Redistricting:  It would be a “surgical” redistricting since most of the schools are facing the same challenge. Some of Bowman families could be sent to Harrington. One of the ideas would be to move the preschool from Harrington to the old Harrington building, which would free some classrooms and allow redistricting.

Modulars: Purchase or lease the least expensive modular to use as classrooms until long-term solutions are considered. A special town meeting in January would be needed to appropriate the funds. The modulars would most likely be used for the lifespan of the school, so the question of quality is an issue.

For Bowman, divide the Bowman Gym into two spaces (Gym and Music): This is a one year, temporary solution, until intermediate solutions are ready.  Intermediate solutions could be:  higher quality modular construction (see new construction at the HS) at Bowman or another school and/or thoughtful redistricting (most likely Harrington)

Intermediate Solutions for September 2016 (Based on HMMA recommendations):

High Quality Modulars: The placement of these modulars would depend on assessed need and could be at Bowman, Bridge, Harrington, Fiske or several locationsThe town meeting in April would have to approve funding. High Quality Modulars would take around 16 months to be ready (September 2016)

Redistricting based on space, need and new construction

Other solutions as recommended by HMMA, the firm doing the master space planning report for the town (Phase II due end of November and Phase III due by end of December/January).

Long-Term Solutions:

Rebuild/replace Hastings (minimum of 5 years to complete):  Application for this has been made to the MSBA state building assistance fund for reimbursement.  We will find out sometime this winter whether or not Lexington’s application has been accepted to the program.

Build a seventh elementary school or an additional school that could be used as overflow space (Completion of a minimum of 5 years)

Build a wing or wings on to one or more existing schools

Submit an SOI application to build a new High School (or potentially other schools) A statement of Interest (SOI) to the MSBA is a state grant to help pay for the construction. In 2013, 117 schools applied and only 7 were successful.

Other solutions not yet articulated by HMMA, the firm doing the master space planning report for the town.

NEXT STEPS:

Meeting with Dr. Ash and Committee members:  Dr. Anton and the Bowman PTA are working to set up a meeting with Dr. Ash, School Committee representation and parents and staff at Bowman to discuss the Bowman community’s views, concerns and thoughts about possible solutions for our current and future overcrowding. This will take place a in the next couple of weeks.

Think about the big picture:  We are not alone in facing the overcrowding dilemma.  All 9 LPS schools have equally serious problems so we must work together to make the best solution for our child’s entire education in Lexington.

1. Overcrowding is not a short-term issue that will affect only your child’s elementary experience.

We need to think about the future too. In five or less years, your children will go to Clarke, which is already experiencing huge space issues. We need to advocate not only for solutions at Bowman but also for middle and high school, which are in the same situation as Bowman.

2. Town Meeting needs to approve our needs and LPS may not be on top of the list.

Families without kids outnumber families with kids in Lexington, so we must convince our entire community to vote in support of putting more money into our schools. Fire and Police departments need upgrades too so there will be other requests for town money.

3. The common space in schools will become a limiting factor as classroom capacity is added to a school.

At some point, the gym, music, cafeteria, bathroom spaces and traffic will no be able    to hold any more students even if more modulars are added.

 

HOW CAN I HELP?

• Learn the facts lps.lexingtonma.org/Page/4316

• Attend LPSC meetings or watch on lexmedia.org

• Stay informed and visit our website bowmanpta.org to find out about our PTA meetings and contact information.

• Sign up to our online directory to get our weekly updates (Contact Chitra Sundar at directory@bowmanpta.org)

• Email the Lexington Public School Committee Chair Margaret Coppe  mcoppe@sch.ci.lexington.ma.us

• Contact Town Meeting Members: tinyurl.com/pdzhk

Vote on November 4th for the 5th school committee member. There is a vacancy and whoever fills it will be involved in the superintendent searh and master planning fro the schools. School committee candidates are Tom Diaz and Bill Hurley both have a list of coffees on their websites. http://www.billhurleyforschoolcommittee.com/meet-bill/ and http://www.diazforsc.org/meet-tom.html.  Bob Rotberg http://www.robertrotberg.com/events.html and Suzi Berry http://www.suziebarry.com/events are the candidates for Selectman and they will be part of the group deciding if the town should approve money for our school expansion needs.

 

Thank you and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Kind regards,
Patricia Valda and Christina Lin
Bowman PTA Co-presidents

president@bowmanpta.org