The beginning stages of a five-year facility plan in the Western Dubuque School District suggests moving fifth-grade students from Drexler Intermediate Middle School as a way to alleviate overcrowded conditions in the building.
Following the school board meeting June 11, Business Manager and District Treasurer, Mark Frasher, discussed the possible move, which would affect only the district’s Highway 20 corridor buildings.
“Fifth-graders are already housed in Peosta Elementary,” Frasher explained. “We are looking at potentially moving the fifth-graders from Dyersville and Epworth back into their buildings.” Frasher said the move would affect two classes of fifth-graders. “The end result would be freeing up four total classrooms at Drexler. Those rooms would be repurposed to help ease some of the capacity issues.”
Frasher said there were no firm plans for how the four rooms would be used, but that having electives in those rooms is a possibility. “Doing that would put electives mostly in one area instead of being spread out all through the building.”
Frasher noted the findings of capacity study projects Drexler to be at 107 percent in five years if something isn’t done. “Right now, we are at 93 percent capacity. If we make these changes, we can stay at about 93 percent. It can buy us some time, but if the enrollment continues to grow at a steady pace, then we will have to look at a more significant solution.”
The district’s enrollment trends will also affect Western Dubuque High School, which is currently operating at 93 percent capacity. “One thing being discussed is moving forward with Phase Two of the vocational building,” Frasher said. “We built that three or four years ago and all the automotive and manufacturing classes moved out there. It’s been a great success. The next phase would house FFA and woodworking classes, so then those areas in the current building would be able to open up for classrooms.”
Initial feedback on the proposed fifth grade move has been positive. Frasher said there was concern when fifth-graders moved to Drexler six or seven years ago. “We were running in to situations at that point, where room in was starting to get tight. Pushing them all to Farley made sense. As a parent, I’d prefer my fifth-grader staying in their elementary school. They are more elementary students in my mind.”
The enrollment study suggests Cascade Elementary and Cascade Junior-Senior High School have the room they need. “Looking at the projections from the study, it doesn’t look like anything dramatic is going to happen over there at this time,” Frasher said.
Frasher emphasized that no final decision has been made on moving the fifth-graders, and that nothing will happen by August, when classes resume. “We are trying to put together a five-year facility plan, so this is the beginning conceptual stage of that. We started with enrollment and looked at capacity. Now we have the data in front of us and it’s our ‘what now?’ moment. At this point, it’s all conceptual. Nothing will be checked off next year.”
In board news:
• The board heard a report on the district’s special education services from Special Education Director, At-Risk Coordinator Vicky Coyle.
• Approved administration, supervisory and non-union wages.
• Approved handbooks for Elementary Parent-Student, DMIS Student, Coaches, Parent-Athlete and an addition to the High School Handbook.
• Proposed PPEL projects.