What is the plan?
The plan proposed at the Board of Education Workshop held on Mar. 3 is to consolidate the elementary buildings into true grade-level buildings.
The proposed plan is as follows:
Alliance Early Learning School - Preschool through 1st Grade
Rockhill Elementary - 2nd & 3rd Grade
We believe this plan is the best way to ensure all students are receiving the best possible educational experience during their time here at ACS.
What about Parkway Elementary?
Parkway will not close. The proposed plan includes turning Parkway into a multi-use facility that will house our Alternative Programs, district professional development and training as well as offices for some of our district service positions. Alternative Academies, which are currently housed at the Alliance Community Center. Relocating the Alternative Academies from a building we lease to a building we own will save the district an estimated $100,000 a year and it will allow for the programs to expand. Currently, the programs are for second grade and up, but we feel the need is great enough within the district to expand the programs, more specifically Success Academy, to better meet the educational and emotional needs of our students in kindergarten and first grade.
When will the plan be implemented?
If approved, the plan will be implemented for the 2020-2021 school year.
What is the reason for the plan?
While consolidating will allow us to save money (approximately $600,000 a year), that is not the main reason we would like to consolidate the buildings. When the district restructured in 2014, the plan was to have true-grade level buildings. However, the number of students in the district did not allow for that to happen, which is why Rockhill and Parkway both housed first through third grade students while all other buildings housed the same grade levels. Over the last six years, the continuous decline in enrollment (which is prevalent throughout all Stark County districts) has brought the number of students down to where we can comfortably restructure into true grade-level buildings.
Having grade-level buildings ensures each student is provided the same educational experience, programing and opportunities across the board. They will have more time for specials at the elementary level and equal programming for all students in the same grade level.
Will the transition be too hard on the younger students?
Transitioning is always hard, especially when they are at the elementary level. The proposed plan will help to alleviate the hardships that our youngest Aviators experience. Unless the students attend Preschool at AELS, they are only at the building for one year as a kindergartener before they have to transition to either Rockhill or Parkway as a first grader. Keeping first graders at AELS will guarantee the students two full years at one building before they have to transition. If the students begin preschool at the age of three, they will have four years at AELS where they can learn without being uninterrupted by a transition. The students will have the same number of transitions throughout their educational career at ACS, the transitions will just take place at a different time.
Will there be a reduction of staff members?
We do not plan on cutting our staff, but there is always the possibility that we will need to when consolidating. At this point in time, we have not made any decisions on eliminating staff members. Every year, ACS loses an average of 14 staff members due to retirement, leaving the district and other reasons. When those staff members leave, our goal is to simply not replace them. We are working to save money by way of cutting operation costs to try and maintain the number of staff we currently have.
Will class sizes increase?
Class sizes will not increase. Back in 2014, the Board of Education approved the current class sizes and they will not change based on this plan. We believe there is more than enough room at the buildings to accommodate the number of classrooms and the class sizes we currently maintain.
Is ACS doing this for money?
As stated above, this will save the district money, but it is not the reason we would like to consolidate the buildings. We are in a similar place financially as we were back in 2014 when we chose to be proactive to ensure the district would be able to offer the same opportunities it had been offering. If we aren't proactive now with the changes we want to make, then we will be forced to make changes we don’t want to make in the future.
We are choosing to be proactive and make changes that we believe will benefit our students and staff and the community.
Will the buildings be over crowded?
Not at all. The buildings are more than big enough to comfortably fit the number of students who are enrolled in the district.
Will the students lose programming?
Not at all. In fact, the restructuring will allow for more programs, such as specials, for the elementary-level students
Will Specials be affected?
When the space utilization study was conducted, art, music and specials rooms were not considered underutilized rooms. We value specials as an integral part of our students’ education. Each building will maintain the specials they have and will continue to have designated rooms for specials as they do now.
What happens if enrollment increases?
Should there be an increase in enrollment in the future, another discussion will be held. All buildings will remain open and if the district needs to restructure to accommodate the increased enrollment, a plan will be created to do so.
When will the Board of Education vote on this plan?
This plan will be voted on during the next regular Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Apr. 21. The meeting will be held virtually at 6 pm. Click this link to view the meeting: http://www.alliancecityschools.org/boe-virtual-meetings
If you missed the Virtual Community Meeting, a short video of the proposed plan is available here: Video Presentation