Wednesday, January 19, 2005

State School Facility Guidelines and One School's Lack of Compliance

South Dearborn School Community School Corporation’s Building Project

Problems with compliance to
Indiana State Board of Education
School Facility Guidelines
Adopted January 10, 2002)

1. Section 2. General Principles

(6) equal opportunity for all public school children;

South Dearborn’s project violates this principal because all South Dearborn public elementary school children will not have “equal opportunity.” Aurora Elementary will serve 650+ students, while the other three corporation elementary schools serve around 300 students.

2. Section 2. General Principles

(b) Local boards of education should study the issue of school size in relationship to educational opportunity and operational cost per pupil.

This did not happen. The research shows schools of 300-400 serve children best. This research was ignored. There are also no administrative cost savings with this project. The school will have two principals. The only real cost per pupil savings South Dearborn may experience will be in custodial, maintenance services, and utilities.

Additionally, research regarding appropriate grade configurations for middle level students was ignored.

3. Section 3. Guidelines for Feasibility and Impact Study

(1) demographics;

The current elementary school is Center Township, the most populous township in the district. The new elementary will be in Hogan township, one of the smallest township. Center Township is among the poorest in the county. Many residents lack automobiles. Moving the school further complicates transportation issues. SD does not provide two way kindergarten transportation. Currently, at least one guardian picks their child up from school in a taxi-cab.

In 2003-2004, the free lunch rate was 28 percent. Low income students are at the most risk in a large school.

4. Section 3. Guidelines for Feasibility and Impact Study

(3) projected student and community growth;

This projection was derived from live births at Dearborn County Hospital. This is a community of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Area, therefore many children are born out of the county. They projected a decrease in enrollment. Enrollment has increased in each of the past two years.

Since the administration and board approved this project, a sewer district has been formed in the attendance area and development is expected. Additionally, primary approval was given for a 200 unit subdivision within the attendance area.

Five percent elementary population growth will put the project beyond capacity.

5. Section 3. Guidelines for Feasibility and Impact Study

(5) projected construction cost and, if applicable a comparison of the cost of new construction with the cost of remodeling or renovating a school listed on the national register or state register or determined by DHPA eligible for either register;

The main objective of this project seems to be bringing Aurora children PK-3 and grades 4-6 into the same building. Currently students grades 4-6 share the middle school with the rest of the corporations 7th and 8th grade students.

The administration presented three options to a citizen committee-

First-a major addition and remodel of Aurora Elementary. The plan included tearing the gymnasium down and building a new section of the building that included a cafeteria and gymnasium. It also included tearing down housing surrounding the school building. The school would have remained a PK-3 building.

Second-building a new PK-6 building on the current secondary campus and moving grade nine to the middle school.

Third-building a new 7-8 Junior High and converting current SDMS to Aurora Elementary School.

The third option was chosen.

The administration failed to explore the option of moving all corporation sixth grade students to SDMS and building a second elementary school for Aurora’s Children grades PK-5.

Minor renovations at AES would be necessary-paint and carpet. The roof also needs to be replaced.

Using figures supplied by the architect, I have determined this option can save South Dearborn up to 4 Million dollars in construction costs.

6. Section 3. Guidelines for Feasibility and Impact Study

(6) current and future education program accreditation requirements.

The building will not provide adequate space for 5 extended day kindergarten classes. There are currently 2 kindergarten classrooms planned.

7. Section 4. Guidelines for Conventional School Facilities.

(b) New facilities should be designed in a manner that reduces air and noise pollution to minimum levels.

Dearborn County does not meet clean air standards. The current traffic patterns associated with the SD Secondary Campus create long lines of traffic. It can take 20 minutes to travel the 2+miles from SDMS to US 50. Standing traffic creates more pollution. Additionally, the new location of AES is further from some students. It increases dependence on bus service and vehicular travel. It will be impossible for any student to walk to AES. Currently, there are over 100 homes within walking distance of Aurora Elementary School.

8. Section 4. Guidelines for Conventional School Facilities.

(q) Vehicular patterns should be given careful consideration in the architectural planning of ingress and egress of student facilities.

New vehicular patterns are confusing and will be dangerous on foggy mornings.

State Road 350 is not a safe location for another school.

On Friday, November 19,2004, around 3:00 pm a seven car pile up occurred involving several students. I saw the aftermath of the accident. There were still seven cars on the road. It is possible more were involved.

Once South Dearborn moves Aurora Elementary to the secondary campus, 400 more individuals will occupy this campus. State Road 350 currently does not handle school traffic well. Is there any wisdom in adding more traffic to this mess?

Please note: this accident did not make the local newspaper. It occurred before bids were awarded and bonds were issued. Is there a connection to lack of news coverage and bid issues?

INDOT has no plans for road improvements in that area of 350. Additionally, the bridge over Hogan creek is a bottleneck and flooded in 1997. Currently, Hogan Creek is looking like Hogan Lake. The bridge is likely to flood again.

9. Section 6. Guidelines for Pre-school and Kindergarten Facilities.

(b) Pre-school rooms should have a direct exit to the outside.

Currently, none of the classrooms at SDMS have direct exits to the outside.

10. Section 7. Guidelines for Elementary Facilities

(c) Each general classroom in a school containing any combination of grades 1-6 should contain a minimum of 900 square feet, exclusive of auxiliary space.

The rooms Aurora students grades 1-3 will be moving into are 770 square feet. Classrooms in the old school are 826 square feet.

11. Section 7. Guidelines for Elementary Facilities

(e)...Consideration should be given to minimal seating capacity for extra-curricular and adult activities.

There is no room in the building large enough to accommodate Aurora Elementary Schools PK-3 Holiday Program.

12. Section 8. Guidelines for Middle/Junior High Facilities.

(a) The minimum site size for a new middle school/junior high school should be fifteen (15) acres, plus one additional acre for each one hundred (100) students, or major fraction thereof, enrolled beyond four hundred fifty (450) students.

South Dearborn Junior High is being designed for 550 students. The site should be 16 acres. The chosen site is the current parking lot between SDMS and SDHS. There will be NO green space around this building. It is all parking lot and hillside.

13. Section 8. Guidelines for Middle/Junior High Facilities.

(e) Each school should have adequate indoor and outdoor physical education facilities.

To access outdoor physical education facilities, students must cross parking lots. The school will have one gymnasium. There are currently 8 seventh and eighth grade basketball teams and a wrestling team. This makes scheduling of one gymnasium almost impossible. Additionally, the school lacks gymnastics and there is an inequality in athletic programs for girls and boys.

Additional related concerns

14. Section 4. Guidelines for Conventional School Facilities.

(a) The site size for a school with a combination of elementary and middle/junior high and high school grades, or elementary, middle/junior high and high school grades is the combined total of the minimum site size for each of the grade levels involved.

South Dearborn’s project should require at least 54 acres. The secondary campus is large, but actual available acreage should be investigated. Much of the acreage is heavily wooded and some of it is steep hillside.

This campus also includes a maintenance garage and an administration building. Buses are also stored (parked) on this campus.

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