At the March 12 School Board meeting, Jay McIsaac from the community-led Long Range Task Force presented the group’s final recommendations to the Board after months and months of hard work.
This is the same Task Force that made the recommendations for the bond package that was finally passed (on its third try) by voters this February.
After the bond failed for the first time in February 2018, the Task Force reconvened to study alternative options to a successful bond that would help alleviate the overcrowded conditions our schools are facing.
McIsaac was part of the Task Force from the beginning, and said even though the bond had passed, the group’s recommendations would still be valuable for the Board, especially if growth in our area continues at the rapid pace it is currently at.
“We may need it for future use,” McIsaac said. “Or there may be other districts that want to use this information if they’re facing a similar crisis.”
Task Force Recommendations
In their full report, the Task Force laid out options the district could consider for future use.
Implement double shifting schedule at least at one high school. Before implementation, the School Board should consider the following:
- Establish clear criteria for determining which students and teachers would be assigned to early/late shifts
- Be transparent about the criteria and process used to select the high school(s) that transition
- To maintain equity, look into transitioning all Bethel high schools or making the high school that transitions a school of choice
- To improve gym access for students, implement model at a high school that shares a campus with a middle school, allowing late shift students to use the middle school gym while athletic programs use the high school gym for practice
The Task Force recommends the School Board consider the benefits and challenges of the following two options to determine which one should be implemented
Option 1: Elementary school grades change to K-4 and middle school grades change to 5–8 except for Elk Plain School of Choice which will remain as is
Option 2: Change one middle school to an elementary school
The Long Range Task Force consisted of members of the Pierce County Land Use Commission, retired educators, administrators, parents, teachers and longtime community members.
Board President Brenda Rogers publicly thanked the group for the work they had accomplished. She also encouraged the members to stay involved with the district and their community, “They say no good deed goes unpunished, so you’ll be hearing from us again,” she said with a laugh.