It appears more likely that the Board of Education, instead of obtaining portable classrooms, may move four-second grade classes from Smithville Elementary School to Northside Elementary School this fall in order to relieve student overcrowding there.
During a School Board meeting last Thursday night, Board member Charlie Robinson recommended that a committee be appointed to do a feasibility study. "We're going to need additional classrooms to meet our Basic Education Program in at least one school in our system. I'm going to suggest that we establish a committee to evaluate the cost of site preparation, which includes electrical, water, and sewer hookups as well as fire code and state building code requirements for the placement of portable classrooms as needed throughout our system. Questions addressed should be the cost comparisons concerning buying, renting, or building this type of classroom. This is a band aid solution. I think it's time. We've got to be pro-active for our next school year."
Board members and school officials have apparently concluded, based on their initial findings, that it would be too costly to either purchase or lease portable classrooms to meet the existing needs. For example, the initial cost to set up portable classrooms is about $8,000, not including hooking up utilities such as electricity and sewer services. The monthly rental fees would be around $1,100 per month. Purchasing new or used portables could be as much as $70,000 or more.
Smithville Elementary School currently has 174 second grade students, divided up into ten classes. State law limits an average class size to no more than 20 per class in grades K-3. Next year, SES is expected to have 205 second graders divided up into possibly eleven classes. By relocating four second grade classes, Northside, currently a 3rd to 5th grade school, would be taking on about 80 more students, which would ease the student overcrowding problem for now at Smithville Elementary
School officials say that while Northside Elementary currently makes use of all it's space, the school can accommodate four second grade classrooms.
Second grade teachers at Smithville Elementary have also apparently been made aware of the plans and some have volunteered to make the move to Northside.
Smithville Elementary School serves as a school for students in kindergarten to second grade, but in recent years has taken on more pre-K classes, made available through state funding. The school currently has four pre-kindergarten classes and one special education class.
Last Thursday night, Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III, referring to relocating second grade students from Smithville Elementary to Northside Elementary said." I personally don't feel comfortable doing that, but if that's our only alternative then that's what we'll have to do to keep from being overcrowded at the Smithville Elementary School. I just don't feel comfortable splitting up the second grade or, for that matter, any grade."
A committee made up of board members Kenny Rhody and Johnny Lattimore, assisted by Board Chairman Evins and Director Mark Willoughby is studying the issue and is expected to report back to the school board at a later meeting with a formal recommendation.