South Point board to discuss elementaries

Published 11:16 am Thursday, September 18, 2008

It will be another year before the two new elementary schools in the South Point district open their doors.

But already school officials are wrestling with the question of who will go where.

That’s why the South Point Board of Education is having the first of possibly two town hall meetings to get the public’s input on what they want to see happen at the new Burlington and South Point Elementary schools.

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The first town hall will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the old South Point High School.

Right now, the population at the Burlington school is significantly smaller compared with the number of students at the South Point school.

That’s got to change, says board member Dale West.

“We can’t do it like it is,” West said. “You can’t have so many more kids in one school.”

One of the two options the board is considering is having one school hold all K-2 classes with the other having 3-5 grades. The other option on the table is to bus children outside the Burlington district to the Burlington school. If that is done, both schools would have K-5 grades.

“We are trying to figure out what is the best way,” West said. “We want to make sure everybody has input. It will be like a town meeting. People will come in and ask questions and give their opinions. Right now, we want to look at all the angles and get all the perspectives in.”

It was the March primary election of 2004, when a levy to build all new schools in South Point finally passed. Three previous bond and tax levy proposals had been voted down, one in 1999 and two in 2000.

The goal of all the levies was to replace the aging structures. However, earlier proposals had included the consolidation of the two elementaries. The levy that finally got voters’ approval funded two separate elementary buildings.

Lisa Hannon of South Point doesn’t like the possibility of splitting the grades between the two buildings. Her younger daughter, Alexis, will be starting kindergarten the fall the schools open. Right now her older girl, Mariah, is in third grade.

“I don’t like it. I want the kids to stay together,” she said Wednesday morning as parents lined up by South Point Elementary to let their children off.

Danny Johnson said he understands with the increasing sizes of kindergarten classes there is a need for adjustments, but a reconfiguration would mean adjustments for his family as well.

“My kids would have to go to Burlington,” Johnson said. “We live on this side.”

However Stacey Thacker would like to see the schools split K-2 and 3-5.

Whatever changes are made will solely be under the direction of the South Point board, and do not need approval from the state. There can be any type of configuration in the schools, says Karla Warren, ODE spokesperson.

“It’s a local decision what grades they choose to put in what building,” Warren said.

West says he expects the board to have a second meeting to accommodate parents who might not be able to attend on Monday.

“We would like to make a decision by the end of the year,” he said. “It will be one or the other. There definitely will be a change.”