DELAVAN — Officials at the Delavan-Darien School District are exploring changing the way several of its school buildings are used for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
Public forums for parents and community members will be held throughout February and the beginning of March to discuss the possible changes and generate feedback and input from anyone interested in the future of Delavan-Darien schools.
The times and dates of the community meetings are:
- 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14
- 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15
- 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18
- 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27
- 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5
All meetings will likely be held at the School Administration Center boardroom (324 Beloit St., Delavan). If large crowds are expected, the location may change. Check the school district’s website (www.ddschools.org/changes.cfm) for changes, or call 262-728-2642 ext. 4813.
The district is seeking input on possibly moving to a “learning center school” model, which would involve restructuring the use of the district’s three elementary buildings and Phoenix Middle School.
“There are a lot of options or possibilities on the table,” said Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D. “We need to find what works best for our district, our students, our families, our staff and our community. The model we use now may still be the best option, but we need to go through the exercise of seeing what other possibilities may exist that would improve our school system and the learning that goes on here.
“That’s what we’re doing right now, administratively. Nothing has been decided as of yet, and we want to seek input from our district’s community members as we move forward. New ideas may come forth in our discussions, too.”
Currently, the district’s schooling structure is this:
- Darien Elementary — Early Childhood program, Grades 4-year-old Kindergarten through Grade 5
- Turtle Creek Elementary and Wileman Elementary — Grades 4-K through Grade 5
- Phoenix Middle School — Headstart program and Grades 6-8
- DDHS — Grades 9-12
Instead of a traditional 4-K through grade 5 neighborhood school, learning center schools would combine all sections of a grade within a school.
The possibility discussed at a school board workshop session Monday, Feb. 4, included moving all fifth grade sections to Phoenix Middle School while keeping grades 6-8 there; developing a two “schools within a school” model at Phoenix by having fifth and sixth graders together in an area of the building with an administrator and seventh and eighth graders together in a separate area of the building with an administrator; designating Wileman Elementary as an early learning center by having it house the Headstart and Early Childhood programs along with 4-year-old kindergarteners; having kindergarten through grade 2 students at Turtle Creek Elementary; and having third and fourth grade students at Darien Elementary.
The board agreed that further investigation on this option, and other possible building layouts, continue to be explored in the coming months with additional input from community and staff members.
Such changes are being considered to ensure the district best meets the academic, environmental and social needs of its students, and to see that the district is making the best use of its resources while being fiscally responsible to district taxpayers, Crist said.
“Private businesses do these types of exercises to determine if they are maximizing their efficiencies and being the best they can be. We should be no different,” Crist said. “Having such discussions should occur at least annually as we respond to what our data shows and work to provide what’s best for our community’s children.”
The possible move to a learning center school offers both advantages and disadvantages to students, parents, staff and community members.
Among the possible advantages are: balancing class sizes; ensuring fairness by providing opportunities for all students to be a part of such learning models as looping-classrooms, dual language immersion classrooms and others; allowing for before- and after-school childcare within the buildings; expanding Gifted and Talented programs for students who excel; providing more support for students who need it; saving money by maximizing efficiencies; and others.
Disadvantages for such a model might include: adding a building transition for students; not having traditional “neighborhood” schools; having siblings attend different schools; and increasing travel distances to and from school, among others.
“We recognize those challenges, and we want to talk with our community more about them, too,” Crist said. “We also want to see how the community feels about the many advantages we see to moving to such a model.”
The details of the possible proposals will be discussed at the community forums with members of the district’s administrative team and staff. Attendees will have opportunities to provide input and ask questions.