Lynchburg City Council and City School Board Special Called Meeting
August 8, 2023
II. LCS Facilities Master Plan presentation Dr Lance Richards, Project Manager MGT Consulting
Dr Lance presented the background and influences on the facilities plan, including some demographics.
Highlighted changes in population by age (but not location) and school enrollment by grade.
Indicates an overall projected decline in enrollment of 414 students over next 10 years, primarily in high school grades (257).
Community Engagement sessions indicate strong support for neighborhood schools.
Report stresses increased opportunities for CTE and early Childhood programs, as well as increased investment in Alternative Education services, probably consolidated in a single location.
Other considerations included need to physically address student discipline, programming for Virtual education and STEM/STEAM project based learning. (this seems to come at the expense of liberal arts courses!) Retention of employees across the board and student retention also were considered, but did not directly relate to facilities.
Report stressed possibilities for Public-Private Partnerships to provide early childhood and CTE programs.
Report also mentioned ‘programmatic alignment’ which seems to sort middle schools into differentiated emphasis of educational opportunities. (Could this become the new tracking? How would this affect transportation? Attendance numbers? Many questions here, but not addressed in this meeting.)
Finally got to the facilities!
2 school are under-utilized (Bedford Hills, Dearington)
4 schools have fewer than 225 students
Several schools scored poorly on ‘suitabilty’ scale
Facility conditions are poor at Sandusky ES and Linkhorne ES.
Four scenarios have been presented to the public, the School Board and Council. These were each discussed in the breakout sessions, identifying individual’s priorities and developing a framework for further consideration.
III. Breakout Session
Four groups discussed each of the scenarios, indicating individual levels of concern for specific criteria (e.g., removal of temporary classrooms, cost, transportation time/distance, etc)
Consensus was reached in support of
• ‘close to home’ neighborhood schools,
• some consideration of rebuilding Sandusky Elementary rather than eliminating the building (although it ranked low in condition)
• support of increasing CTE/STEM/STEAM programing, in partnership with private sector.
Scenario 1 was viewed as too expensive, replacing SES, and adding Pre-K. However, three groups voiced concern for the effects on a n already traumatized population (violence, Covid-19) Helgeson and Misjuns dismissed this aspect.
Scenario 2 was generally favored as it allows for renovation of high-needs buildings, impacts the fewest number of schools. However, the optics of closing DESI and/or TCMES is not good and complicates transportation. Misjuns stated that TCMES needs an auditorium if it is to have performing arts as a focus. Also, some commented that this option was not comprehensive.
Scenario 3 had support for higher savings overall, particularly from Helgeson, who considered only the dollars expended/saved as he controlled the discussion in his group. Again, Misjuns wants TCMES to have an auditorium. Other comments included that this plan has a good mix of renovation and replacement, closures and reuse, including Pre-K in plan. Some concern was expressed about the calendar at Bass ES. There was some support for closure of TCMES and SES.
Scenario 4 was recognized as having the lowest community support even while saving the City the most money (Helgeson: best return on investment). “A good package disliked by community.” Some discussion of closing DESI and how rezoning would occur. Overall, only Helgeson seemed to favor this plan.
Comments by Helgeson (with some agreement from Misjuns) indicate that he may disregard the proposals altogether and make a counter proposal based primarily on cost and potential savings to the City.
IV. Report Out
Dr Edwards stated that the goal is to have a complete plan by Fall of 24, prior to City budget deliberations, including consideration of consolidation, redistricting and programming. To accomplish this, she needs a clear direction by November 1, 2023.