MAHOMET, Ill., (WCIA) — One school district now has a plan in place to address its space issues. It wasn’t “plan A,” but it’s still one the superintendent hopes can make learning a little easier for now.
The Mahomet-Seymour School District is putting a band-aid over its crowding problem. It comes after two failed referendums to build a new junior high.
Monday night, the school board gave a green light toward a temporary solution.
“You have a typical classroom size of somewhere between 25 and 30, typically that’s what’s in a normal classroom,” Dr. Kenny Lee, Mahomet-Seymour’s superintendent said. “Now you’re looking at somewhere between 50 and 60 in that same amount of space.”
Dr. Lee wants to fix that. He’s excited to expand learning spaces, even though it wasn’t the original plan. For months, the district was pushing for multi-million dollar referendums.
The first one was to build a new junior high and additions to another building.
Taxpayers ended up saying no to both, so officials went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan.
At Monday’s school board meeting, they approved a modular building, or a “portable classroom,” that would go outside of the junior high school in town. There’s one there already, and the new one will go right next to it starting next school year with two classrooms inside.
“If we can add those two more classrooms, we can put a teacher who is currently on a cart moving throughout the building throughout the day,” Dr. Lee said. “We can put him or her into a classroom.”
Teachers and students have been working through challenges for a while.
“Currently we have six classrooms that are basically cut in half into two classrooms so that will free up some additional classroom space for us,” Dr. Lee said.
He’s glad there’s a temporary solution.
“It provides the opportunity to do more activities,” Dr. Lee added. “If you want to do small group activities and things like that and move around the classroom.”
But, parents still want to see more done. Ryan Robbins has twins that will be in junior high next year.
“I would prefer them to add these to add additional classrooms than to smash all the kids into one classroom or have the teacher have to deal with 30-40 kids,” Robbins said.
Although, Robbins still wants to see something permanent done.
The new classroom space is a three-year lease. It will cost about $230,000 and the money will come from a combination of the county facility sales tax and the school district.
Originally, going into Monday night’s meeting, the board members introduced an about $500,000 plan for two portable classroom buildings, one at the junior high and one at Lincoln Trail Elementary. That plan also included renovating a multi-purpose room into a gym space.
That plan wasn’t passed and the board decided to only move forward with the one portable class space for now. Dr. Lee said they will continue to revisit how to fix the overcrowding problems.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, board members discussed bullying. That’s after they got student survey results back in December and reviewed them. Those results showed students feel the least safe in hallways and restrooms.
Dr. Lee said administrators will look at ways to engage with kids and families to get more feedback. They’ll also increase professional development efforts and look into how the staff can be more responsive in the classroom to identify it.