The Delavan-Darien School Board is considering moving to an Elementary ‘Center’ School concept to both save money and improve the educational opportunities for all students. (See benefits below.) Center schools have all sections of grades at a particular school for the entire district. For example, all kindergarten students (currently in three different schools) would be all together in one school. Likewise for preschool, first grade, second grade, and so on. “The concept is educationally sound and can reduce our operating costs,” Superintendent Robert Crist said.
The Center School concept and its benefits will be discussed at two public information meetings:
- 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7,
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9,
- Both meetings will be held at the School Administration Center, 324 Beloit St., Delavan.
- See further details here
Learn more about the benefits of this idea below, or call Superintendent Robert Crist at 262-728-2642 ext. 4806.
Center School Benefits – In Detail
Classes can be balanced, not only in numbers of students, but by students’ educational needs. Each class could have more equal numbers of total students, gifted and talented students, ELL students, students with special educational needs, etc. It levels the playing field for all students.
Students in a graduating class will be together with their peers from 4K through graduation. There won’t be the “Phoenix funnel” at sixth grade where students are unfamiliar with one another because they came from three different elementary schools. They’ll have had seven years together in elementary school before starting the sixth grade. Imagine how good our bands, orchestras and choirs will sound, or how good our athletics teams could be with kids participating together for that long! Also, students who move homes within the district will be able to stay in the same school with the same teacher and with the same classmates whereas now they may change schools.
With more teachers of a grade together in one building there are simply more options for students. That means we can better nurture all students and increase their chances at success by pairing them with teachers that are best suited to meet their needs and learning styles. This includes having our Dual Language Education program spread out in all three elementary schools
Having grade-level teams of teachers together will allow for better collaboration to best meet student needs. There’s more teacher brain power to analyze data, identify problems and find solutions for our students. It’s also easier for teachers to find partners and team-teach, or specialize in a subject in this type of setting.
Extra travel/transitions, but…:
The major drawbacks we’ve heard about this plan are extra travel time and more school transitions for students. We hope this plan can be done with the maximum bus ride time being under one hour for students coming to and leaving from school. We will also provide more opportunities for students to get to know their school and their teachers with special events (open houses, school visits, etc.) during the school year and over summer break. Administrators we’ve talked to at other schools with similar building structures say the students adapt quickly to their surroundings as daily school routines are learned.
With this plan, the district can reduce staff (through attrition) and save money (up to $500,000/year) while maintaining appropriate student:teacher ratios. That means having resources to keep the programs we currently have in place and hopefully avoid or reduce the need for future operational referendums. That’s good for our taxpayers.
To us, this structure just makes sense. In an ideal world, we’d have our school buildings closer together to reduce travel times, or have another larger elementary school instead of two smaller buildings to reduce the number of transitions. But even without those things, the ability to achieve all the other positive gains listed above make this a superior model for our building configurations. With “center schools,” we expect to see continuing academic gains for our students, which is a benefit to all residents in our community (higher graduation rates, more educated workforce, reduced crime, higher home values, more desirable community to live in, etc.)