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Elementary Consolidation Review and Early Learning Expansion

School Board begins discussion to address elementary consolidation and early learning program expansion

board of distinctionThe Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors launched a discussion with the community centered on potential elementary consolidation and an assessment of early learning program needs in March 2019. Elementary capacity as it relates to district finances is closely connected to the board study. The district is facing the reality of a reduction of 250 elementary students over the last nine years due to shifting community demographics. Kindergarten readiness data and feedback from parents suggests a need for more early learning programs. This topic of expansion will be studied as well. The district is anticipating 25 empty classrooms across its six elementary campuses in the next few years. Enrollment is also expected to remain flat in the coming years.

We’ve adopted a timeline for the study and Operational Understandings to help guide the process. Our study will include site visits to elementary schools, surveys, enrollment data reviews, financial impact analysis and preschool program options. We are thinking the answers will not be finalized until early November. There are multiple levels and questions that need to be answered, and there are multiple times when we need to involve others in the discussion. We appreciate your involvement and input. Please be sure to contact us with any questions or concerns throughout this process.

April Pulse Video - Superintendent Wade Smith interviews School Board President Ruth Ladderud about the study. 

Operational Understandings

Elementary Consolidation Review & Early Learning Expansion Operational Understandings (pdf)

The Board has tasked itself with analyzing data - engaging staff, parent and community feedback - and deciding on a responsible course of action for implementation in the 2020-21 school year. The Board has identified that a final decision will be decided upon on or before their November 5, 2019 meeting.

Consistent with the Board’s agreed-upon strategic planning belief statements of “maximizing the impact of its resources” as well as “collaborative and transparent operation,” the Board will consider the following criteria in developing their course of action:

  • Agree upon a draft timeline to frame their analysis and outreach
  • Review, minimally, the following data and information to inform their decision:
    • Consider financial savings and other means to improve operational efficiencies
    • Better understand the prototypical elementary model and its impact on school funding
    • Analyze school capacities in addition to campus opportunities and limitations of each elementary school facility
    • Understand current student residence and neighborhood school attendance patterns
    • Analyze current and projected elementary student enrollment across the Walla Walla attendance area
    • Review early learning space requirements and compliance standards
    • Explore teaching and learning implications and program best practices
    • Consider student diversity and demographic impacts resulting from any proposed changes
  • Consistent with the recommendation of the 2017 Bilingual Committee, maintain the phased-in, two-way dual program at Edison Elementary
  • Develop one or more solutions for community feedback that:
    • increase efficiency and ensure sustainable student populations; and,
    • provide for additional classroom space for the district and/or community partners to enhance access to early learning opportunities
  • In accordance with agreed-upon Board Operational Protocols, the Board President will be the spokesperson pertaining to official board correspondences related to the Board’s involvement in this process 

News or Announcements

  • Next meeting - June 4, 2019 - 5:30 p.m. at the WWPS Anne Golden Boardroom (details below)
  • 10-10 Staff Newsletter - May 21, 2019
  • Community Input: The School Board will invite public comment following study reports at every board meeting. 
  • School board members will tour the Early Learning Center in Pasco, WA June 3
  • School board members to tour elementary schools in May and June


Timeline Outline (pdf)

February 19: Board Decides to Study Elementary Consolidation and Early Learning Expansion Topics
- Board determines that it will serve as primary body to review and analyze

March 5: Elementary Capacity and Early Learning Planning Discussion
Board Discussion:
- Why are we studying this topic?
- What information or data do we think we need to know to help inform our future outreach and deliberations?
- Board reviews draft timeline created by President and VP

March 19: Timeline and Data Review/Approval, Operational Understandings, and “The Why” Outreach Process
- Board reviews and approves Timeline/data needs
- Board reviews and approves Operational Understandings
- Board discusses communications strategies

April 16: Financial Summary and Survey Creation (Survey window April 17 to May 1, 2019)

May 7: Survey Results and Early Learning Space Requirements

• Board Reviews and Discusses Survey Results
• Board Reviews Early Learning Space Requirements and Standards

May 8: Board Reviews Prototypical Model Review, Capacity and Population 

May 21: Board continues discussion on study. Board members report they believe they are on the right track with the study and appreciate having the necessary time to get stakeholder input, analysis and data. 

Coming Next:

June 4: Data/Information Review: Student population residence review; Building capacity and limitations/opportunities; Possible follow-up campus tours.

Timeline Outline (pdf)

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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