Declining enrollment at Crawford School has district administrators "thinking outside the box." The school has about 60 students in grades K-6.
Partial consolidation of the school took place at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, when seventh and eighth graders were moved to Hotchkiss. During those discussions, which were driven by districtwide budget concerns, the importance of the school to the fabric of the community was impressed upon school board members and administrators alike. They're still reluctant to close the school, but know it's not cost effective to operate such a small school even when the principal also teaches classes and teachers are taking on multi-grade level instruction.
The solution, they believe, may be moving the North Fork Community Montessori School (NFCMS) from Hotchkiss to Crawford School.
The NFMCS has operated as a contract school with Delta County for the past 13 years. Both NFMCS and Crawford School have been designated Schools of Distinction for outstanding student growth and achievement.
Like Crawford, North Fork Montessori School serves grades K-6, but it also has a preschool program that's been struggling financially. The school has also had a waiting list because of space constraints.
"These two excellent schools have staff that has worked incredibly hard to make each school the school of choice for the residents in Crawford and the North Fork. However, it is our belief that both schools would benefit tremendously by becoming one school housed in the Crawford Elementary School," the school district stated in a letter sent to staff and parents.
"Moving the Montessori school to Crawford would double the student population, provide adequate classroom space for all students, and combine the Montessori educational pedagogy and instructional strategies with more traditional electives on a daily basis. As we move forward with this proposal, it is important to note that the Delta County Schools leadership team and the administrators from both schools have met together multiple times to discuss the pros and cons of moving in this direction, and together have come to the conclusion it is a viable option and should be moved forward to the next steps."
The five members of the Delta County Board of Education added their endorsement to further research of the proposal last week.
At the Sept. 19 school board meeting, superintendent Caryn Gibson said the school district will be looking for "buy-in" from the community and from teachers.
A community meeting was scheduled Tuesday at Crawford School, to be followed by a two-week period of observation by parents, staff and school board members. A second community meeting will be held at NFMCS on Oct. 23.
"With that input, we will determine the next step," said Delaine Hudson, director of alternative education for Delta County Joint School District. "This is a tight timeline and allows for the process to be complete by Jan. 1, to plan for a smooth transition if the decision is made to combine the North Fork Montessori School with Crawford Elementary School beginning with the 2014-15 school year."
These pro-con statements have been
identified by Delta County School District 50:
• Increase the population at Crawford Elementary to keep the school open
• Combine two excellent schools into one student body
• Utilize the excellent school facility in Crawford – gym, music, library, cafeteria
• Elective curriculums part of every school day
• Breakfast and lunch program onsite
• Large library
• Combine technology resources
• Montessori becomes a district school
• "School of Innovation" status allows for use of Montessori curriculum
• More choices for families
• More students eligible for the Sammons scholarship
• Increased class sizes
• Better use of revenue – financial stability
• May draw back some homeschool students
• Expansion possibilities for Montessori programming
• Possible opportunity to serve seventh and eighth graders in Crawford again
• Acceptance of Montessori program in North Fork
• Vibrant Montessori program could promote community stability
• Additional district support for Montessori program
• Larger staff allows for more collegiality
• Montessori staff becomes part of district staff and feels like equal members of the teaching staff
• Stabilizes the primary program
• Preschool costs could approximate district costs for preschool
• Transportation of students to Crawford
• Preschool costs
• Costs of materials
• Cost of training
• Displacement of teachers
• Crawford community will still feel like they lost a school
• Montessori will have to relocate
• Isolation of school
• Montessori families like the small size and feel of school
• 3-year-olds cannot ride the bus
• Empty building in Hotchkiss
• New structure for Crawford parents
• Larger building costs more to operate
• Need large enough population to fill new classes
• Grants to train district teachers in the Montessori curriculum and instructional strategiesblog comments powered by Disqus