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Community contributes to Woodridge building study

2/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

The first community dialogue in the Woodridge Local Schools process of studying its facility needs was held Feb. 13.

Superintendent Walter Davis said 88 people attended, discussed issues and filled out a questionnaire about the buildings and instruction that goes on in them.

Woodridge has four schools, two of which are old: the Woodridge Primary School is 86 years old and the Woodridge Intermediate School is 84 years old. The Woodridge Middle School was built in 1996 and Woodridge High School in 1961, according to a facility and demographics study done by project consultants Chas Schreckenberger, of Braun & Steidl Architects, and Charles Warner, of Warner Concepts LLC.

The two are compiling data and meeting with a planning committee and the public en route to presenting their recommendation for a 10-year master facilities plan for the district in May.

They reported that Woodridge gained 290 students from 2004 to 2011, but enrollment has remained fairly stable since then. They project an increase of approximately 198 more students in the next 10 years. The primary and high schools are both currently overcapacity, they reported.

Davis summarized the findings from the community dialogue questionnaires at the Feb. 18 Board of Education meeting.

The majority of respondents favored class sizes of less than 20 students for kindergarten through fifth grades and 21-24 for middle and high school. Fifty-two percent would prefer just three schools — a primary school with kindergarten through fifth grades, a middle school with sixth through eighth grades and a high school with ninth through 12th grades — and 78 percent would like them on one campus instead of spread out at separate sites. No students should have to ride a bus longer than 30 minutes, the majority said.

If money were no object, 81 percent said they would raze the old primary school and build a new one, and 92 percent would do the same with the intermediate school. Most would keep the 18-year-old middle school, while 54 percent said the high school should be renovated.

A second community dialogue will be held April 10, when Schreckenberger and Warner will present options for the buildings.

In other business, Davis said the Ohio General Assembly was preparing to vote on the emergency House Bill 416, which would permit up to two additional calamity or snow days and two teacher professional development days for Ohio schools for this school year. The Ohio House passed the bill Feb. 19, and it now is before the Ohio Senate.

School districts are allowed up to five days of closure for bad weather or other calamity before they must make up the missed days. Woodridge schools have been closed for snowstorms or extreme cold eight days so far this winter, Davis said.

The high school has been closed a total of nine days, he said, including one as a result of a gas line leak Feb. 8. A pipeline that leads underground from the street into the school’s boiler room broke under the ground, so the gas was shut off to the building and it was closed, he said.

If House Bill 416 is not approved, Davis said, the first make-up day would be April 21, followed by June 6, 9 and 10.

Instead of make-up days, he said, another possible option for making up the lost instruction is “blizzard bags.” These contain online and/or paper assignments that the students may complete at home or when they return to school, within 10 to 14 days.

Blizzard bags are designed to be used after the five calamity days and may be used only three times per school year, Davis said.

Since Woodridge has now been closed eight school days — nine for the high school — Davis said officials there were in a wait-and-see mode for what happens next in Columbus.

He reminded the audience of ways to find out about what’s happening in their children’s schools: the district’s Bugle newspaper, which is distributed in the Woodridge areas of the West Side Leader and Falls News Press; the district’s website at woodridge.k12.oh.us; Blackboard Connect phone alerts; and email blasts, accessible by signing up on the website.

There are also Coffee With the Superintendent sessions one Wednesday afternoon/evening a month, the annual report and calendar, and occasional mailings. The district soon will have a Facebook site, too, he said, for posting information.

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for March 18 at 6 p.m. in the Woodridge High School Library, located at 4440 Quick Road.

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