will have 50 additional kindergarten and first grade students this fall, under a plan approved at Tuesday's board of education meeting.
Highmeadow lost two classes when the school went from a K-5 to a K-4 configuration in 2010. Supt. Sue Zurvalec said at the board's Feb. 7 meeting the the school is the most underutilized building in the district.
A committee charged with studying the school's capacity provided three options at that meeting; the one approved Tuesday was the least expensive. It would add a kindergarten and 1st grade section in 2012-2013. In the following year, those students would move up, and kindergarten would drop back to two sections.
This creates a "bubble" that would continue to cycle through the grade levels until the school reaches capacity. The committee's report noted this would mean one section's curriculum and materials would be stored for three years, until the bubble caught up with that grade level again.
The cost would be $210,000, for lockers, curriculum and teachers. Resident David Anderson, who spoke Feb. 7 and during Tuesday's meeting, urged officials to consider spending the money where it would benefit the entire district, rather than just 50 students at Highmeadow.
Board member George Gurrola pointed out there is "overwhelming demand" for Highmeadow seats, and when students don't get into the program, it may cost the district more in the long run.
Last year, 35 students enrolled in schools outside the district after losing out on the lottery for seats at Highmeadow Common Campus. That cost the district $350,000, Zurvalec said.
"This is a business decision that can help pay for itself," she added.