Superintendent Recommends All Elementary Schools Remain Open
After thoroughly combing through data on the city’s youth population, Superintendent Jeff Pattterson has determined that closing an elementary school at this time is not in the district’s best interest due to significant growth in Lakewood’s age 0-5 population and the affect that likely will have on the district’s future enrollment.
In May, the Board of Education passed a budget reduction resolution that included closing an elementary school beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. At that time, Superintendent Patterson announced that the administration would do its due diligence in examining the data of where students live, how many would be affected by specific schools closing and the capacities of the remaining schools should one close and that he would announce his decision on which school to close in August.
“We promised the public we would painstakingly go over the data to make sure the right decision was made in regards to closing a school. In the process, we discovered that the population among our youngest Lakewood residents is growing and that closing an elementary school may not serve us well at this point in time,” Patterson said. “I apologize for any distress the earlier announcement of a planned school closing has caused parents. We are confident that reversing that decision is the right one for our current and future students.”
Superintendent Patterson made his recommendation to the Board of Education at its Aug. 6 meeting.
Data obtained through the U.S. Census and City of Lakewood’s live birth records indicate that 3,020 children ages 0-4 are living in Lakewood. That is compared to 2,631 children ages 5-9, or a nearly 15% increase. Historically, on average 79% of the children living in Lakewood will enroll in Lakewood City Schools. Using that figure, district officials calculated that six remaining school buildings with a capacity of 430 (the current capacity of the district’s new buildings) would not be able to accommodate the projected increased enrollment. In addition, between 500-750 students would be affected by redistricting if Grant, Lincoln or Roosevelt closed.
In an effort to replace the estimated $400,000 in annual savings that was expected to come from the school closing, the district will continue to find places to reduce costs as well as explore new sources of revenue.
In addition to asking the Board to revise the budget reduction resolution, Patterson also plans to ask the Board to request a new district enrollment projection from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The OSFC in 2008 revised the district’s Master Facilities Plan due to decreasing enrollment at the time to include six elementary schools rather than seven be rebuilt or renovated in the district.
Due to the state’s revision of the master plan, the Board of Education in April 2009 voted to close Grant Elementary School as part of Phase III of the master plan, leaving Roosevelt and Lincoln elementary schools to be the fifth and sixth elementary schools rebuilt in the district. A new enrollment projection by the state, if it agrees to conduct one, would determine if a seventh elementary school should be re-instated in the Master Facilities Plan.