Public weighs in on grade configurations for potential Groveport Madison schools


By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

A survey of Groveport Madison School district residents and school staff indicates they do not like the idea of abandoning the elementary and middle school concept in regards to possible new schools.

Hanover Research conducted an electronic survey this winter and presented representative results of the 954 responses it received from parents (474), district staff (335), and community members (145) to the Groveport Madison Board of Education at its March 28 meeting

The survey gathered input from the public regarding facilities, programming, building grade configurations, and other related topics such as community learning centers, trust in district leadership, and the future of the district.

Options for building grade configurations included: K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and high school; K-5, 6-8, and high school (the district’s current configuration); K-6, 7-8, and high school; and K-8 and high school.

The board has discussed moving away from the elementary and middle school concept and instead possibly building three 180,000 square foot schools, each situated on 24 to 34 acres of land, that would each house 1,400 to 1,600 students in grades K-8. If pursued, this plan would reduce the number of schools in the district from 10 to four.

Tony Guadagni, content director for Hanover Research, said 41 percent of survey respondents said they prefer a configuration of K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and high school as their first choice while 36 precent liked the current K-5, 6-8, and high school the best. However, when the respondents’ first and second choices were added together, 78 percent preferred the K-5, 6-8, and high school configuration while 65 precent liked the K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and high school set up. The least liked option was the K-8 configuration with only 9 percent listing it as their top option while 74 percent said they disliked it.

Most parents appear to be uncomfortable with the mingling of students in grades K-8. Board members wondered if the survey respondents were unclear on the details of a K-8 configuration, which include staggered start times and busing for the different grade levels and that the varying grade levels would be separated in a K-8 building.

Guadagni said upcoming focus groups with parents of elementary and middle school students on April 17 could determine if community members understand the set up of the various configurations. The focus groups could also address facility needs as well as the benefits and potential cost expectations of the grade configuration options.

Definitive costs, the number of buildings needed, and the size of the buildings under the different options still need to be determined by district officials.

According to the survey report issued by Hanover Research, the company recommends that the district “should further explore the potential costs, benefits, and drawbacks associated with a switch to K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and high school configuration as opposed to keeping the current configuration.”

Board President Bryan Shoemaker said the board hopes to decide on a building size and configuration plan by mid-summer.

“If the board were to decide to seek a bond issue to fund new buildings, it most likely could be on the ballot sometime in 2019,” said Shoemaker.

Currently the district has a high school, three grade 6-8 middle schools and six grade K-5 elementaries. These schools and the year they were built are: Asbury Elementary, 1963; Dunloe Elementary, 1967; Madison Elementary, 1967; Glendening Elementary, 1968; Sedalia Elementary, 1969; Groveport Elementary, 1923; Middle School Central, 1952-56; Middle School North, 1975; and Middle School South, 1975. Groveport Elementary and Middle School Central are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The current 50-year-old high school will be demolished in the summer of 2018 and the new high school opens in the fall of 2018.

Community Learning Center
Another part of the Hanover Research study involved the concept of a Community Learning Center (CLC).
According to Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner, a CLC is an area set aside in school buildings to offer health and wellness services, including dental and vision care for students.

A CLC could also offer academic support with tutoring, after school programs, mentoring, family engagement, and social wellness.

“Health impacts academic performance,” said Warner. “If it’s not addressed a student may not be able to overcome it.”

Currently Groveport Madison does not have a CLC in any of its schools, but the Ohio State mobile optical and dental units do visit the schools periodically.

Information from the Hanover Research study shows that the respondents favored the academic aspects of a CLC over the health offerings by a wide margin.

“Groveport Madison should offer tutoring, after school programs, and mentoring as part of the CLC,” recommended the study. “Respondents do not show a strong desire for health care or other basic needs to be offered through this resource.”

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