Overcrowding has become a problem at Streetsboro's Wait Primary School, but it's one that would be resolved with approval of the school district's 4.56-mill bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot, Principal Amy Cruse said.
The levy would pay for the district's school facilities plan, which would move classrooms housing preschool through second-grade students -- who are now at Wait Primary School -- to a renovated Campus Elementary School. Wait would then close.
Wait currently houses 189 kindergartners and 188 first-graders.
Lack of space also is preventing the expansion of the district's preschool program. Currently, there are two morning classes and two afternoon classes, Cruse said.
"We're trying to build a preschool program, and because we're at capacity here, we can't," she said.
Students participating in preschool at Wait should have a much easier transition to kindergarten than those in other programs, and it also gives school officials the opportunity to identify students with learning disabilities earlier than would otherwise be the case, she said.
Another benefit would be larger classrooms, she said.
Since the state is contributing more than $24 million to the project, the district must adhere to standards required by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which includes standards for classroom size.
Since there are two kindergarten classrooms at Wait that meet the OFCC's size requirements for new schools accepting state money, Cruse said she sees first-hand the difference a new, larger classroom would make for teachers.
"The teachers really can meet the needs of the kids in the larger room," she said.
Assigning group projects and setting up learning centers have become important teaching techniques, she said.
"That just can't happen in a classroom that's so small," she said.
In the smaller rooms, it's also difficult to provide space for children to sit on the floor to listen to a teacher read a book, Cruise said.
The average kindergarten class size is 23 students. Students would benefit from smaller classes, she said.
"Any time you can decrease the student-teacher ratio the kids are going to benefit," she said. "All the research done points to that."
The move to Campus also would provide the opportunity for more collaboration among teachers and students that is difficult or impossible with Wait, Cruse said.
When older students have the opportunity to act as mentors to kindergartners or preschoolers, everyone benefits, said Cruse.
"The older students get the chance to build confidence in their skills" and the younger students get extra instructional attention and sometimes understand concepts if they are explained to them from a different perspective.
Busing and transportation also would much simpler with all the district's students at one campus, said Campus Elementary School Principal Kristen Cottrell.
In addition to the challenge of organizing busing, Art Teacher Michelle Forsyth, Music Teacher Mark Izzo, Physical Education Teacher Elle Ashby and Technology Teacher Cindy Walker spend half the week at Wait and half the week at Campus. In a shared building, they may have their own room which would they would not leave midweek, said Cottrell.
In a new or renovated facility, teachers also may have a better place to plan their classes and grade, said Cruse. Currently, the teachers' work area at Wait is on the old stage at the back of the old gym.
Cruse also said there are many small things that are not big problems but need updating, such as the playground.
"(Students) are not suffering because of this, but there's better equipment out there," she said.
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