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January 1, 2014

Lakeview considers moving classes to new building

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

A task force in Lakeview Public Schools has suggestions for reallocating students in the district, recommendations that are now being considered by the district’s Board of Education.

Parents, staff and administrators were all involved in the facility/program task force, convened by district administrators after the opening of the Wheat Educational Campus earlier this year. The task force met twice in October to discuss different directions Lakeview Public Schools could take, first reviewing about 15 different ideas, then narrowing them down to five that were given further consideration.

Among the ideas put forth were moving part of or the entire preschool program from Greenwood Elementary, where it has been housed for 40 years, to the Wheat Educational Campus; running the innovative online classes for middle school and high school students to get back on grade level at Wheat, as well as the Wayne State University courses for high school students; opening a daycare for children up to three years old at Wheat; keeping sixth-grade students at some of the elementary schools to alleviate crowding at Jefferson Middle School; and looking at other configurations of the schools, such as moving the accelerated 4th- and 5th-grade students to another building, perhaps Jefferson Middle School, together or moving accelerated 8th-graders to the high school for classes.

“It was very interesting to watch the dynamics of a lot of invested parents” in the meetings, said Superintendent Karl Paulson.

The matter was brought before the Lakeview Board of Education in December for a first reading, with the final proposal to move the entire preschool program to Wheat in fall 2014 and to continue running the innovative online classes and Wayne State University or other college classes at the building, as well.

By opening up space at Greenwood Elementary, and with the moving of the administration offices over to Wheat earlier in 2013, Paulson said they hope to open space up at the elementary level, where there isn’t enough room to have special classes — like art and music — in their own room.

Melissa Pinter, of Harrison Township, has a son in first grade and a daughter in second. Next year, she’ll have a third child at Harmon Elementary, as well.

“Turning the Wheat building into the preschool, moving the preschool programs over there, I thought was a really great plan,” said Pinter, who was a parent member of the task force. “That would sort of alleviate the crowding in the elementary level, and it would make room for expanding the preschool program.

“We are full. We do have all of our art and music; they come to the kids’ classrooms.”

“Traditionally, we’ve put three kindergartens at Harmon, three at Princeton — that’s why Harmon is tight,” Paulson said. “If they don’t have to have three kindergartens, they only need two, and they graduate three fifth grades, then we open up a room.”

The other ideas floated during the task force meetings haven’t necessarily been discarded, Paulson said; they just aren’t necessary to implement right now to alleviate overcrowding.

“Nothing’s ever done,” he said. “There’s more of a ‘we don’t need to consider the rest of them for the next year or two.’”

The district offers two fee-based rooms of preschool — one for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds — a Great Start Readiness classroom for 4-year-olds who qualify and an early childhood special education preschool room. All of the rooms offer morning and afternoon classes.

If the plan is approved by the board in January, Paulson said, some decisions will have to be made, such as who is in charge of the preschool — since the principal at Greenwood Elementary was previously the head of the preschool, as well — where and how a playground will be built and what sort of traffic pattern for pickup and drop off will be developed.

Pinter found participation in the task force “eye-opening.”

“I was in a group with some administrators and people from the middle school and high school, so it was nice to see their view on it — see the future of my kid’s education,” she said.

If the board approves the recommendations, she said she hopes that student allocations could be changed.

“Less school-of-choice kindergarteners would be put at Harmon, I would think, because the other schools have more room,” she said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.