Leopold expansion means cutting seven teachers?

Correct me if I’m wrong (as if I need to even say it).
If the Board approves an addition at Leopold from the operating budget (without a referendum), won’t the Board also have to cut an additonal seven teachers from next year’s budget to cover the cost?
I hope that I’m wrong, because that divisive course, which the board majority seems poised to approve, would certainly pit Leopold and its expansion supporters against the teachers and parents of each and every school that might lose a position.
A less divisive course would be to ask voters in a referendum for funds for the expansion in the context of a complete plan for growth on the boundaries of the district.
According to the district’s figures, Leopold serves only 23 students beyond its capacity, but parents and teachers tell of severe overcrowding. Either the parents and teacher are wrong, or the district numbers are wrong. I’m going to believe the parents and teachers, forcing me to raise the question: how many other numbers are wrong in the administration’s spreadsheets.

10 thoughts on “Leopold expansion means cutting seven teachers?”

  1. I believe you are correct about the figures. And you are correct that the district doesn’t do a good job keeping accurate figures although, this is one area that I feel they are pretty accurate. A few years ago I was looking at figures for a project and the district didn’t have any of the correct figures.
    The problem in the Leopold area is that there are a number of new homes being built and new subdivisions starting without homes in them yet in the Fitchburg area. 23 students could be looked at as 2 extra classrooms in the SAGE or be disbursed between 6 grades and 4 classrooms (at least) per grade, that would mean less than one additional child per classroom. I don’t know the exact numbers but with the number of new homes being build and the price range of the homes, it is very enticing to new families specially when they hear the reputation of West. The problem will be when these families find out about the heterogeneous classrooms at West so they move to Memorial where they offer many more honors and AP courses.
    The school looks worse than I feel it really is. Teachers are not having kids pick up their coats in the hallways, they have the old library without walls, yet spend a lot of money on bookshelves for the book room. Not that many years ago, they had 696 students in the same school without the additional 8 classrooms and new larger library that were added recently. I believe that teachers and our city need to decide if they want to support SAGE for all K-3, then something needs to go. We either need to have 2 teachers in a classroom of 30 students where the teachers actually team teach rather than try to teach two classes within the same 4 walls, we build more schools that will sit empty down the road as it happened in the late 70’s, or give up SAGE for the average to above average kids and leave SAGE for only those who are truly stuggle and need that extra help. I support the concept of SAGE, but I don’t see the average to above average kids really benefiting with the smaller classes. Besides, I feel that the district is holding back the high flyers so the kids who are struggling can catch up.
    So does the district move the middle class Fitchburg families and raise the poverty level at Leopold, or add another addition because highest percentage of those in poverty are in walking distance of the school. This is a real struggle for everyone to decide what would be best.

  2. Ed,
    The real economic risk to MMSD is not benefitting from the enrollment growth that would otherwise be there with clear plans for space in growth areas. The cost-benefit is not linear, because of the connections between the revenue cap and enrollments.
    But, overall budget gaps may force the district to reduce the numbers of teachers and increase class sizes, anyway. That reduces the overall west-side growth stresses (not the way I’d prefer), but not so much at places like Leopold.
    Significant increases to class size will likely lead to more intense boundary changes – and this will likely lead to additional stress on the overall sustainability of enrollments and loss of students from MMSD.
    It’s important to note that enrollment vs. building capacity and real stress from overcrowding are not simply a linear relationship. The issue is the flow of students and staff over the day, and the crunches can happen at specials, in the cafeteria, and in common areas. We should also consider that the real costs of this stress include those missed opportunites because educators, administrators, and students don’t spend as much of their time on the business of learning.
    The Long Range Planning task force asked many questions about the data. We really looked at it carefully- and I trust that the numbers are sound. Research and Evaluation did a great job explaining how they came up with the estimates and the 2005-06 numbers are based on actual counts.
    Education4u doesn’t quite understand the SAGE model when she suggests pulling average to above average kids from SAGE classrooms. Low-income (free and reduced lunch) does not mean poverty. The low income population simply presents a wider range of academic needs. Many of these students are very well supported by their families, their schools, and our community. It’s critical to SAGE that there is a balance of income and educational needs within the classroom. You’ll find wide support for SAGE among Leopold’s middle-class parents, too. They see broader impacts on learning from SAGE.

  3. The figures have been discussed on this site at great length by the same authors. Please feel free to ‘search’ for any information.

  4. Actually, you are correct. I just looked on the DPI website and found, According to DPI, “The SAGE program began in the 1996-97 school year, was expanded in 1998-99, and was expanded again in 2000-01. The objective of the program is to improve student achievement through the implementation of four school improvement strategies: class sizes no more than 15:1 in grades K-3; increased collaboration between schools and their communities; implementation of a rigorous curriculum focusing on academic achievement; and improving professional development and staff evaluation practices. Schools in SAGE have renewable 5-year contracts with the state and get state aid equal to $2,000 for each low-income child in the grades served by the program.”
    It does look like the whole school (K-3) needs to SAGE classrooms. I was just trying to come up with “creative” ideas on how not to add onto Leopold.
    I never was saying that free and reduced lunch = low academic levels though. Now I am serious, I always assumed Free and reduced lunch was also low poverty or close to it. Seriously, can you give me examples of when it doesn’t because if I remember correctly, you have to fill out forms on income in order to receive free or reduced lunch.

  5. My post when shared was to have appeared earlier. Jerry’s post was not listed when I typed (busy night, I guess). It was not in reference to your comments (edukation4u)…and for that, my sincere apologies.
    My reference was to the original comment:
    “According to the district’s figures, Leopold serves only 23 students beyond its capacity”
    I and others have regurgitated this information at length for the last year with the original author. Leopold has out posted for the last 5 years. The numbers are rather high and continue to be. The growth for Fitchburg, to which Leopold serves is also high and is included in these estimates. Not to mention the numerous decreased size of the cafeteria, library, open theatre, and use of hallways as classrooms. It is not secret that the school is overcrowded and not only by 23 students.
    The only creative way to alleviate Leopold is to build. The situation gets worse every year and hurts the entire district.

  6. As a parent who has been very active at Leopold, Leopold only outposted for 2 years 5 and 4 years ago, not every year for the past 5 years. When the addition was created, the new library was very large compared to the other library which was moderately big. The old library was an open room, with the book shelves creating the walls. (Leopold was built as an open school without walls) In the past 5-6 years or so is when true walls were built, before that there was still open classrooms. The cafeteria has been about the same size for approximately 8 years, again for a while there where “open classrooms” or a “storage area” down there. Yes, the school did lose it’s theater room where small groups did occassionally go to work together, but to be honest, it was not used very efficiently before. Hallways are not used as classrooms, rather that teachers ask small groups to go out there to work so that there is more space for everyone. The classrooms in general are not as large as say those at Schenk on the east side of town.
    I have been in the school since the remodeling and unfortunately I will say that the space of the old library is not used efficiently. And it is used as a “dumping” ground for storage. The school could definately use someone to go in and help organize it vs. cobbling it together.
    Instead of building more to that school, I would rather see the district spend some money to “organize” it. Teachers (and as a former teacher myself) keep everything, just in case they use it again. When the original remodeling happened, there was alot of “storage” areas lost. Unfortunately, only the new rooms have space, the old storage areas were never replaced. Really, the principal needs to get out of her office or stop attending meetings in order to help organize the school and make it a more positive working environment. I am amazed at the turn around in the school in only the last two years. It’s not the “overcrowding” that is the problem,(although it doesn’t help) it is the atmosphere that the top on down bring into the school which is the real problem.

  7. Within the outposting I was including the many children who currently live in the Leopold attendance area and have been redistricted to Chavez for at least the past 2 years .

  8. Marisue,
    Is this true? “I have been in the school since the remodeling and unfortunately I will say that the space of the old library is not used efficiently. And it is used as a “dumping” ground for storage.”
    Is the old library simply used for storage. How big is that space?

  9. Mari, you are correct. When Leopold did it’s outposting 5 years ago, this included I think approx. 75 students at the time who were redistricted to Chavez and and also to Thoreau.

  10. The old library (it’s called room 200) is not a storage area. It is used by 15 teachers and assistants as the area for providing teaching space for reading specialists, special ed (EEN), ESL, and the book room with the nice shelves. I think that it would be turned into two classrooms under the tentative plans for creating more space within the building. I am not sure about the square footage. It is not really a room though. It has hand-me-down green, orange, yellow cubical dividers from the SWAP shop to create walls.

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