The Need for A 3-5 Elementary School
Why we need an “upper elementary school” (3-5)?
The need for increased space in Weston schools was identified as early as 1993. According to numbers provided by Dr. Peter Prowda at the State Department of Education and the school’s Financial Manager Joe Wolf, Weston will experience a 25% increase of students within the next ten years. Since that time, numerous committees comprised of parents, educators and Board of Education members have worked to develop a plan that made the most sense for the town of Weston, educationally and financially.
Weston’s Board of Education has consistently maintained class sizes of 20-24 students in grades K-8 to deliver a quality, educational program. It was within these parameters that the committees carefully analyzed the grade configurations of towns in our ERG A (Educational Reference Group) and other towns in the state, and determined that a PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 configuration was best for Weston’s students for the following reasons:
-Educationally sound grade groupings are age appropriate and they need to be in the same
-Allows for clear focus on the different philosophy appropriate for each grade level; i.e. primary, elementary, middle school, high school.
-Creates smaller learning communities.
-Reduces the number of staff shared between buildings.
-Allows for clear focus on the education of very young children.
-Students move through system with their peer group.
-Prevents potential competition between two schools of the same level.
-Intermediate grades are more content-focused than primary grades, yet are not academically or
socially ready to be with adolescents.
-A true middle school concept can be developed allowing for team teaching and guidance.
-9-12 most common grade configuration due to graduation requirements, socialization, and
The building plan that the Board of Education recommended to the selectmen will replace all portables (25) on campus and address the various peaks in Weston’s student enrollment over the next decade and beyond.
The Board of Education recommendation included necessary renovations to the three existing schools, in addition to a new “upper elementary” (grades 3-5) school producing the following configuration:
- Weston High School – Grades 9-12 /900 students
- Weston Middle School Grades 6-8/ 750 students
- New Upper Elementary School Grades 3-5/750 students
- Hurlbutt Elementary School Grades Pre-K-2/740 students
OUR CURRENT CAMPUS CONFIGURATION:
Weston High School
- Grades 9-12
- Includes 3 portables (leased)
- Total enrollment: 584
Weston Middle School
- Grades 5-8
- Includes 10 portables (leased/purchased)
- Total enrollment: 779
Hurlbutt Elementary School
- Grades Pre-K-4
- Includes 12 portables (purchased) housing kindergarten and kindergarten activity spaces.
- Total enrollment: 1006
Total enrollment: 2369
Total portables currently on campus: 25
HISTORY OF WESTON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS & MODULAR CLASSROOMS
- 1951- East and South Houses were built
- 1960 Middle School built
- 1964 North House was built
- 1968 – High School was built
- 1970 10 modulars were installed on current Administration Office property
- 1979 3 modulars were installed in the back of the High School
- 1992 4 additional classrooms were added to North House at Hurlbutt (8 were recommended).
- 1996 Remodeled Middle School clusters into 16 classrooms
- 1997 Jean McNeil Core built at Hurlbutt to connect the 3 houses (only Phase I completed)
- 1998 Administration Building opened
- 1999 5 modular classrooms purchased for Middle School
- 2000 5 modular classrooms leased for Middle School
- 2001 12 modular classrooms purchased for Kindergarten
- 2001 3 modular classrooms purchased to replace aging modulars at the High School
We need to have a new “Upper Elementary” School. The total project cost put forward by the Selectmen, $45 million dollars, does not include the cost of building the new school. That number represents the cost of renovating the high school and minimal renovations to the Middle School and Hurlbutt, far less than was recommended by either the Board of Education or the School Building Committee.
The Board and its sub-committees did not recommend expanding and renovating the existing schools as an option for the following reasons:
–Learning communities are too large. Large numbers of students in buildings present unique problems: Safety concerns. In times of crisis, such as fire or a bomb scare, it is difficult to evacuate large numbers of children in a timely fashion. In fact, just this past week in Hurlbutt Elementary School, a fire drill was conducted in “shifts” to accommodate its large student population (853, excluding the kindergarten portables).
Additional Administrators. More grades in one building require more administrators. It is common practice to have additional administrators if more than 3 grades are in one building. Currently, we have 3 administrators in Hurlbutt for 5 grades, 3 administrators in the Middle School for 4 grades and 2 administrators in the high school for 4 grades. This situation makes it difficult to provide personalized attention, as is Weston’s custom.
-Still need to increase core facilities at both the Middle School and Hurlbutt to meet growth in student population.
-Places elementary and middle school students at a disadvantage because of two different educational philosophies within one building impacts scheduling.
-Requires more shared staff-increasing scheduling conflicts.
-While there is money included in this number to solve some of the parking issues at Hurlbutt, it is not enough to address the campus-wide traffic problems that will occur due to increases in enrollment.
-Inconvenience to staff and students while construction occurs during the school day.
-Since we are currently using all portables on campus there isn’t any “swing space” available if a wing of a building must be shut down.