Of the 10 different options presented to better utilize the school district’s 14 elementary schools and five support buildings, Twin Beach Elementary School would be closed under nine of them, according to an updated facility study presentation based on the findings of Plante Moran, the firm conducting the study for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District.
Plante Moran’s recent presentation of options to school board members is just one more step completed in the facility study initiative that has been ongoing for the past few months.
According to Walled Lake Schools Director of Community Relations Judy Evola, the district is conducting the study to “best ensure that we are utilizing our buildings’ space in the most cost-effective, efficient ways and that our facilities balance with our enrollment and curricular needs.”
According to Plante Moran’s preliminary findings that were released in January, the elementary schools are at 83 percent capacity with their current total enrollment of 6,618. The current enrollment capacity is 7,884.
Over the next five years, enrollment is projected to drop to 5,999 elementary school students. This would lower the enrollment to 76 percent of capacity, with most of the schools being under-utilized.
“With the decreasing enrollment trend, practically speaking, it would lead one to think that we would be under-utilized at some point,” said Bill Chatfield, the district’s director of operations.
Last month, a facility study update showed that most of the buildings would fall below a 70 percent utilization level within the next five years.
Although nothing is finalized as of yet, based on this month’s study update, the possibility exists that the district could decide to close one or more elementary school buildings.
In fact, the options presented to the Board of Education showed closing not just one but at least two elementary schools in every scenario to lower the number of classrooms from the current 317 to 259. And Twin Beach Elementary was at least one of the schools suggested for closure in every scenario except one.
Based on the results of a public online survey, the three most important criteria to consider when deciding which building to close were ranked as follows: age/condition of building; number of students attending; and cost of operating the building.
A little under 75 percent of those surveyed said they would support reconfiguration of grade levels into separate buildings, such as early elementary (K-2) and upper elementary (3-5) if it meant improved instruction and reduced expenses for the district.
Three of the 10 options, Options E, F, and H, call for balancing enrollment by restructuring this way. Option E has Guest and Twin Beach elementaries closing, while Option F has Dublin and Twin Beach shutting their doors. Option H, on the other hand, closes Maple, Twin Beach, the Twin Sun and Community Education Center (CEC) buildings based on closing the lowest composite EFI (Condition and Function) buildings and balanced enrollment.
All other options keep the traditional K-5 elementary school structure. Option A calls for closing the smallest buildings: Maple and Twin Beach. Option B would close those buildings with the lowest EFI (condition) buildings — Glengary, Twin Beach, and Walled Lake elementary schools. Option B1 also closes those schools, as well as the Twin Sun facility.
Buildings with the lowest EFI (function) — Commerce, Dublin, and Loon Lake elementaries — would close under Option C.
Guest, Maple, and Twin Beach, as the buildings with the highest operational costs, would close under Option D. Meanwhile, Option D1 would close the same schools and Twin Sun, while moving special services and preschools to the CEC.
Option G would close those schools with the lowest composite EFI (function and condition): Dublin and Twin Beach. in addition to the Twin Sun and CEC buildings.
The latest presentation didn’t include how much would be saved under each scenario.
All updated facility presentations can be found at www.wlcsd.org.
The facility study is taking place as the district prepares to make significant budget cuts for the 2011-12 academic year.
While the district initially expected to have to make reductions of $20 million for the upcoming budget year, that number has grown to $24 million after further analysis of several factors, including Gov. Rick Snyder’s state budget for the 2011-12 year by an average $470 per student.
After factoring in retirement rate increases, special education reductions, health insurance increases, temporary state and federal funds, state-funded programs, enrollment declines, additional unemployment, and Snyder’s budget, district officials now believe the district will lose $1,559 per pupil for the next school year.