THE BAD, THE WORSE, AND THE WORST
Data compiled from the Monongalia County School District web pages show that in the past 5 years (2005-2010) the number of elementary schools has shrunk from 15 to 11, and the average elementary student body size has increased by 55 percent. During those same five years, the total elementary student body has increased 13 percent, per the information available online, as listed below.
It’s time for the school district to start building additional schools, or at least holding the line, rather than continuing to reduce the number of elementary schools, for many reasons, including current crowding, the well-established many benefits of neighborhood schools and small schools, public preference, and so on. The financial capacity to do so seems to exist as well. Moreover, it needs to exist.
All else the same, consolidating Woodburn and Easton would drop the number of elementary schools from 15 to 10 in the seven year period of 2005-2012, for an average increase in elementary school student body size of 70 percent, in seven years, district-wide. When and where does it stop?
Does a new school at the Mileground intersection not potentially threaten Suncrest Elementary with closing? And does it not likely mean that Easton area students will sooner or later windup in an expanded Mileground school the size of Cheat Lake Elementary, or larger?
The viable alternatives are to build two modest sized schools on land Mon Schools already owns (Woodburn schoolgrounds and the 94 acre new UHS campus on the border of Easton Elementary and North Elementary’s catchments) or to build a new combined school at the Woodburn site for both Woodburn and Easton students, which would have the good benefit of disallowing any such future expansion, due to site constraints.
Even so, a combined Woodburn-Easton school on revitalized Woodburn grounds would already be double the size of the current Woodburn student body, and even moreso than the current Easton student body. However, the fortuitous Woodburn site constraints would prevent futher expansion.
This would not be the case with a Mileground intersection school. A new combined school there could expand greatly, and the stark recent trends of the Monongalia County School District show that the Mileground school would very likely expand. In other words, Easton area parents and students who wish to avoid attending a very large school, whether at Cheat Lake Elementary or North Elementary or the likely to expand proposed Mileground school, would find a relatively small school only at a revitalized Woodburn site, probably nowhere else.
Since the proposed Mileground school may likely rapidly expand, and because it is an echo chamber of constant speeding traffic, and because the intersection area is polluted and congested, and because it is a commercial sprawl school, and traffic crash dangerous, rapidly developing with roads and industries, and because it is no closer and in the future the student body would likely no smaller than Cheat Lake Elementary, why would Easton and Cheat Lake students and parents prefer that large and horribly sited school to, either, attending Cheat Lake Elementary with its much more hospitable site, or, traveling a single extra mile to the green and quiet neighborhood of Woodburn? The Woodburn site is fully accommodating for a combined school with Easton, and its pocketed residential location forces the school size to remain relatively small, unlike the Mileground site.
An expanded school at the Mileground intersection would allow the possibility of closing Suncrest Elementary because Suncrest students could be simply moved to nearby North Elementary, many of whose students could go to the Mileground School. For this and other reasons, it would benefit Suncrest school supporters to support the Easton and Woodburn schools combining at a revitalized Woodburn site rather than the Mileground intersection site.
For controlling runaway student body size in the elementary schools in Monongalia County, there seems to be only one way left: force schools to be built where they can be fully accommodated but not expanded. Suncrest, Easton, and Woodburn school parents and communities should insist that the Easton/Woodburn consolidation occur on the accommodating, and containing, revitalized Woodburn site. See the incredible stats on consolidation and expansion below.
Building a school at the Mileground intersection with 705 destroys Woodburn, uses Easton, and threatens Suncrest.
Monongalia County Elementary School Enrollment, 2005 & 2010:
2005 – 2010
|Arnettsville Elementary||89 – cons||n/a|
|Brookhaven Elementary||438 – 454||4% incr|
|Cass Elementary||227 – cons||n/a|
|Cheat Lake Elementary||570 – 644||13% incr|
|Daybrook Elementary||79 – cons||n/a|
|Easton Elementary||111 – 176||63% incr|
|Mason Dixon Elementary||351 – 344||2% decr|
|Mountainview Elementary||629 – 758||21% incr|
|Mylan Park Elementary||n/a – 491||n/a|
|North Elementary||619 – 700||14% incr|
|Ridgedale Elementary||285 – 403||41% incr|
|Riverside Elementary||197 – cons||n/a|
|Skyview Elementary||n/a – 452||n/a|
|Suncrest Primary||164 – 257||57% incr|
|Waitman Barbe Elementary||88 – cons||n/a|
|Westover Elementary||267 – cons||n/a|
|Woodburn Elementary||210 – 227||8% incr|
|total||4324 – 4906||13% incr|
|average student body size for the 15 schools in 2005 and the 11 schools in 2010||288 – 446||55% incr/5yrs|
|average given Woodburn-Easton consolidation by 2012 [all other data unchanged]||288 – 491||70% incr/7yrs|
|average for the Morgantown area [minus Mason Dixon and Daybrook Elementaries] 2005-2010||300 – 456||52% incr/5yrs|
|average for the Morgantown area [minus Mason Dixon & Daybrook Elementaries] 2005-2012||300 – 507||69% incr/7yrs|
Enrollment figures compiled from Monongolia County Schools website: http://boe.mono.k12. wv.us/