Options to be presented to H-W school board

By Marcie Klomp

Supt. John Carver will be making a recommendation to the Howard-Winneshiek School Board at the Dec. 9 board meeting regarding the various centers in the district. Everyone is invited to attend the meeting to be held at 7 p.m. at Crestwood High School.

In the How-Winn Administration Update sent out on Nov. 27, Carver listed four options he sees the board can take.

Option #1: Keep the attendance centers as they are currently configured in Lime Springs, Elma and Cresco. On the up side, for now the district does have a 19 percent solvency ratio and could operate all three campuses for one more year.

Staying as is does not address elementary class size, instruction and the combination classrooms. Elementary class sizes across the district range from a class of 14 in Elma (combination classroom of five second graders and nine third graders) to a class of 26 third graders in Cresco.

This configuration makes planning and instruction challenging for both the teacher in the combination room and the single section classroom. Staying the same also impacts financial resources.

A graph shows the cost per student for 2012-2013 at Elma was $9,045; at Lime Springs-Chester $8,614; at K-8 $5,275; and at the high school $7,495.

As of Oct. 28, 2013 K-3 attendance in Elma is 32 students and at Lime Springs 73.

Option #2: Maintain a four-year old preschool at Elma and move K-3 to Lime Springs or Cresco. Combined classrooms in Lime Springs could continue.

This option does not address the question of consistency of instruction and programs. Having duplicate grade levels at Lime Springs and Cresco maintains a perceived division. “If we are to attract families to the district we must be one district and not separate schools.”

Option #3: Maintain the four-year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and fold everything back onto the K-8 Cresco campus. The challenge here is that there is not capacity on the K-8 campus to receive all the students from Elma and Lime Springs. It could happen if the district continued to shrink and the Crestwood High School campus was reconfigured to receive seventh and eighth grade students.

Option #4: Maintain the four-year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and assign one or two complete grade(s) level to Lime Springs. This structure is not unusual and can be found in several districts across the state.

The thought is that each campus would serve a complete grade(s) level and end duplication. This would address the combination classroom question, class size and facilitate the coordination of instruction, services and programing.

This would mean bussing students from Cresco and throughout the district to Lime Springs.

The board may or may not make a decision on Carver’s recommendation. Find out by attending the Dec. 9 meeting.

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