Superintendent’s Corner … MAPS Strategic Plan
In order to balance the 2021-2022 district budget, and remain fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of our community, the Board approved and published the Strategic Plan 2020-2023 on June 17, 2020.
The district consolidation plan contained within the Strategic Plan involving the consolidation of the three in-town elementary schools into two buildings and moving the fifth graders to Prairie River Middle School was approved by the Board on September 23, 2020.
The grade level changes effective for the 2021-2022 school year are as follows:
Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Kate Goodrich
3rd and 4th Grade Washington
5th to 8th Grade Prairie River Middle School
The buildings unaffected by the consolidation plan include Pine River School for Young Learners, Maple Grove Charter School and Merrill High School.
The Administration and our Board of Education have been discussing preliminary consolidation plans of our elementary buildings since November 6, 2019.
In an effort to balance our budget, consolidation opportunities have remained as a public agenda item on the Facilities Committee, Curriculum/Technology/Pupil Services Committee, Finance/Human Resources Committee and monthly Board meetings since March, 2020.
Decisions leading to the approval of the consolidation scenario were based on building capacity, grade level efficiencies and allocated costs. An Ad Hoc Committee consisting of parents, teachers and administrators met on three separate occasions. For a variety of reasons, the committee participants recommended to the Board that the upper elementary grade levels attend Washington and the lower grade levels attend Kate Goodrich. The Board subsequently accepted their recommendation.
The challenges we face with our declining enrollment, and therefore declining revenue, require us to create new efficiencies and make cuts in order to balance the budget. This plan provides an efficient way to meet the needs of the MAPS students while effectively balancing our annual budget.
By closing Jefferson as an elementary building, we are able to reduce the positions of five teachers, one principal, one secretary, one classroom aide, and one custodian. The estimated reallocation amount, or savings, will result in a cut of approximately $700,000 for the 2021-2022 school year. The maintenance dollars for Jefferson will be reduced since it will no longer serve as an elementary building. Grade level consolidation will also streamline our transportation costs.
Class sizes will remain within numbers supported by research. Our target class sizes are as follows:
Kindergarten – 18 students
1st Grade – 18 students
2nd Grade – 18 students
3rd Grade – 20 students
4th Grade – 25 students
5th Grade – 25 students
6th to 12th Grade – 30 students
It is important to understand these are targets and class sizes vary each year based on the number of enrolled students, and licensed teachers.
With all the students of a specific grade level under one roof, the plan outlined above has the most benefit from an academic return on investment standpoint. Having grade level bands within one building allows for the highest level of collaboration. Student success can be reviewed consistently with efficient access to grade level reading and math interventionists.
Also, having all the teachers of a specific grade level under one roof will allow for the highest level of collaboration and integration of instructional best practices. We believe grade-level-building consistency will also better prepare students for the critical transition from elementary school to middle school.
The district is planning to stagger our starting and ending times at each building for next year in order to increase effectiveness with our transportation routes. This will also benefit parents choosing to transport their children who may be attending multiple buildings.
There are currently no decisions made involving the future of the Jefferson building. There have been ideas involving repurposing the facility as opposed to selling the property. The current priorities are implementing the classroom and curricular designs needed for a successful district consolidation for our students.
Yes, difficult decisions must be made. But the projected multimillion dollar budget deficits and the taxpayers’ continued expectation of balanced school budgets insist the district take these consolidation steps.
The difficulty of these decisions are lessened, however, as we focus on how they will benefit our students and their future success.
– Dr. John Sample