Addressing the Helena school board of trustees this week, several residents likened a plan to consolidate elementary schools into 500-capacity buildings to warehousing, and thus alienating, young learners.
“I don’t think we need mega schools,” resident Brian Arnold said.
Helena’s small neighborhood schools are “jewels of the community,” another parent said.
Meanwhile, some district officials looking at the benefits of consolidation have said the city’s elementary schools aren’t just small: They’re tiny.
“We have itty-bitty schools, not small schools,” trustee Ellen Feaver said during a February board meeting.
Read more at the Helena IR here.
‘DIFFICULT DECISIONS’ | GROUP MUST DETERMINE HOW TO CONSOLIDATE 11 ELEMENTARIES TO CURB OVERCROWDING
Currently, seven of 11 elementary schools enroll fewer than 300 students. The smallest is Bryant school, where 212 students attend. District officials say the number of small schools is financially inefficient and limits students’ access to specialized staff, such as gym teachers, counselors and nurses. In order to solve overcrowding problems, the district is seeking to enlarge or consolidate at least some elementary schools so each can hold around 500 students. Two schools — Four Georgians and Rossiter schools — are currently built to that size.