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Farmington Officials Open 50 New Spots at Highmeadow

The district's only school of choice will be made available to more families in 2012-2013.

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. 

S March 07, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Zurvalec's statement that the district lost $350,000 is just the typical spin. There is no guarantee that 1) those students would have gotten into the program as only about 20% of applicants make the lottery. So if you do the simple math, chances are only 7 of the 35 would have made the High Meadow cut. That only means that they would have reaped about $63000. Not $350000. Yet it is going to cost $200,000 plus. 2) some of those 35 may have left the district no matter. Perhaps our administration should stop the spin, stop talking about educational equity, and practice it instead. That would certainly be a breath ofmfreshnair in FPS. Finally, if HM is such a successful program, why has it not been replicated throughout the district for ALL of our students and not just a chosen few?
Kate Boyes March 07, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The HCC lottery application asks if you will enroll your child in a school outside of FPS if not selected in the lottery. What the article is reporting is 35 families answered no to that question who did not get in.
David Anderson March 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Actually, Mr. Gurrola pointed out that of the 2011 applicant pool, 35 families who were not selected are not currently enrolled in FPS. The Board, to a member, took this to mean the District lost a potential $350,000. They were told that by expanding HCC to two new sections (one for K, one for 1st grade) would cost about $200,000. At the most recent meeting, it was the Board members who cited the District's ability to recoup the lost $350k with an investment of $200k. Yes, S, at best this is faulty logic and math. The 35 who were not chosen were part of approximately 140 (25%). So, at best, 13 of these would now be allowed to enroll into HCC. So this action will likely cost the District money.
David Anderson March 08, 2012 at 05:22 PM
What I have recently seen is thoughtful, probing questions on the merits of a dog park – the utilization of land the district cannot use at zero cost. These sessions consumed at least thirty minutes in the last two meetings. I listened to the give and take of whether the district should accept $10,000 from a resident whose basketball court transgressed the border of a property that hasn’t been used by the district for several years. Money that would be paid for a piece of land that, by all accounts, has little (no) value or impact to its whole. This discussion took at least fifteen minutes and engaged several Board members. The Board recently questioned and probed the plan to purchase new busses and they proposed/challenged the administration to find alternatives. And these discussions took almost thirty minutes. You challenged the status-quo. Yet, when posed with a question of whether to spend money to fix something that isn’t broken, to spend money on a program that isn’t challenged for resources, to spend money to keep thirteen students in the district, the board asked zero questions. There was no discourse, no dialog. They questioned nothing, they failed to challenge in the reasoning for forming the task team. And, though posed with viable options of how else to spend the money, they appeared to not even weigh these against the HCC expenditure.
David Anderson March 08, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I am disappointed with the Board. I am angry. The Administration, in my view, fails to see a grand picture, a grand design. I am concerned with the vector of the district. The proposition of the cannibalization of our AP programming, the failure to adequately support STEM, the un-assessed impact of trimesters and the abandonment of early intervention programming are frightening harbingers of the district’s future academic success. Ok, I am now off of my soap box.
Val DePotter September 22, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I think some families think that checking that box somehow increases their odds in the lottery - faulty thinking that the district will pick them if it thinks the alternative is losing the funds altogether. It would be interesting to see how many of them actually did leave the district. Your comment makes great points. I especially like the last sentence. You would think if HM is such a draw that it was worth dumping $200k more into it, they would be looking at converting some or all of our other schools to that format.

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