The new falcon herald logo.
Feature Articles


Additional modulars. Year-round classes. Program eliminations. It’s not a scare tactic; it’s School District 49’s back-up plan if the mill levy does not pass on Nov. 2.Barbara Day is the assistant superintendent of District 49, and she and fellow administrators, board directors and others have met to determine the next course of action if the voters say no to ballot issue number 3-I. The school district is asking voters to approve an $8.5 million annual tax increase that will last throughout the D 49 2035-2036 budget year. Proponents say exploding growth – D 49 is the fastest-growing school district in the state – has caused overcrowded schools, which compromises the ability of the district to provide a strong education program.Naysayers argue the mill levy override lasts too long. The school projects listed on the ballot are not guaranteed and that automatic growth revenue – inflation plus 1 percent plus student enrollment – is sufficient.However, school administrators and board directors say current funding methods are not efficient to provide for a burgeoning student population. If the mill levy override does not pass, there will be plenty of changes in the making, Day said.Day and others have been working on a tentative plan to counterbalance D 49’s growth, if the voters do not approve the tax increase. “We will put together a committee of individuals including parents, teachers and administrators who will come up with a final plan,” Day said. The committee would assemble shortly after the elections, if the ballot issue fails.”We will spend the remainder of this year getting a permanent plan in place, and that plan will go into effect in the fall of the 2005-2006 school year,” she said. “We have no intention of going back to the voters in 2005.”The 2005-2006 school year would be a transition period and recommendations for permanent changes would be presented to the board of directors by the spring of 2006. “The community needs to know these changes would be permanent,” Day said.If the mill levy does not pass, there will be subtle changes occurring during the remainder of this year and the 2005-2006 school year as well. Imminent changes will include across-the-board increased class sizes and a reduction in non-required programs, like art and music. “Our elective programs would lose their classrooms and be put on a cart,” Day said. Art teachers would be towing their teaching tools on a cart to various classrooms. The elimination of many of the non-required programs could be a stone’s throw away when the school board approves the final plan.”We have literacy teachers in every elementary school,” Day said. “They sit in the classroom, and there is a big risk they could be eliminated because they take up space.”By the beginning of school year 2006-2007, the district would most likely institute some form of year-round schooling. “In all probability, the high schools would go to split sessions – some students would be in the schools from 6 a.m. to noon, and others from noon to 6 p.m.,” she said.”We will also be studying our configurations – we currently have five elementary schools, kindergarten through fifth, three that are kindergarten through sixth grade, two middle schools that are sixth through eighth grades and one middle school that is seventh and eighth grade. We have those because there is no more room now at Falcon Middle School. We may have to change those configurations. Do we want to stay with three levels or should we go to kindergarten through eighth and then high school?”But even with year-round schooling, new configurations and decreased programs, the growth projections indicate the district would be full again in two years, Day said. “So modulars are definitely back on the table, and without the money to pay for them, it could mean cutting back more programs,” she said. “Sports will continue but it will be difficult because of split schedules – kids leaving at noon and having to come back to practice.”Day said teacher cutbacks are not an immediate threat but as class sizes increase, there will be an “attrition of staff.”District boundaries also could change as a part of the permanent plan.Shyrl Springer, co-chair of the D 49 Commitment for Kids Committee, said an overcrowded, compromised school district could undercut property values, and an imperiled school district invites social problems as well.An alternative plan or a fresh start? The voters will decide on Nov. 2.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers