Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

District makes do as classroom space shrinks

August 23, 2007

Some students at Eudora West Elementary School will be spending a little more time in the library this year.

From Eudora USD 491's perspective, that might not be such a good thing.

Over the summer, the district built two new reading classrooms in the school's library in order to accommodate growth.

"We're going to be positive and call it cozy," reading teacher Cindy O'Bryhim said.

West isn't the district school facing an ongoing space crunch.

Nottingham Elementary School is continuing to add modular classrooms to serve an estimated 400 student population this summer.

The district currently has to bus Eudora Middle School choir students to Eudora High School to practice music.

Eudora Schools Superintendent Marty Kobza has worked with administrators to help solve the space issues facing the district.

"I would say in every facility we are out of space," Kobza said.

The shrinking space forced the district to start making decisions at the four schools.

Officials focused first and foremost on the core educational classes -- math, reading and science, when reallocating space, Kobza said.

"The classes that tend to be the most inconvenienced tend to be your elective classes," Kobza said.

The process works differently for the younger students.

"In the case of elementary schools, it has to do with the amount of time that has to be spent in those places," Kobza said.

With the decision made, modular units installed and temporary partitions created, the building administrators work to ensure the education process continues to run smoothly.

For Nottingham Principal Jim Lauer, this year's changes seem to be more of the same.

"It hasn't had any negative impact on expectations or instruction," Lauer said.

The modular units service up to 126 students, and help relieve stress on a building that holds more than 450 people daily.

At West, Principal Jan Irby recognizes her school is beginning to face the pressures that Nottingham had been feeling for the past few years.

"It's just the natural flow of what happens to growing districts," Irby said. "It's exciting but it's very challenging."

The middle school and high school have been working through their own growth issues.

In the high school, teachers move from classroom to classroom with carts to save space.

The high school also reallocated rooms to meet the demand. Math students learn in the school's art room, and a black box room originally meant for drama practice has also become a classroom.

"The teachers are doing an excellent job and are being very creative and very understanding with space and those concerns," Eudora High School principal Dale Sample said.

For Eudora Middle School principal Rich Proffitt, the loss of choir space was necessary, he said.

"It's not a perfect condition, but we're trying to make the best we possibly can," Proffitt said.

The district will be feeling the strain of an increased student population next year as well, he said.

"It will be tight," Proffitt said.

District employees have made the most out of the situation presented to them, Kobza said.

"Right now, our teachers are doing an absolutely terrific job of overcoming obstacles in order to teach the way they are," Kobza said. "What we're looking to is a time when we are able to have a facility in every school that enhances the learning opportunity, rather than provide obstacles because of lack of space."

For sixth-grader Scott Lounsbury, the bus ride to the choir room at Eudora High School isn't that bad, he said.

"I like the high school choir room a lot better," he said.

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