Proposition E, on the ballot for April 2, is a $22 million bond issue, designed to “improve safety, accessibility and other space issues in district buildings and relieve overcrowding in elementary schools,” according to the WGSD website.
Specifically, $6 million would be allocated for safety and accessibility enhancements including “secure doors and controlled, single point of entry vestibules for all buildings, asbestos abatement, secure interior and classroom doors, secure exterior doors, as well as elevators and chair lifts to improve accessibility,” the district website stated.
The remaining $16 million would go to the expansion of Hixson, allowing sixth grade to be moved there and Steger Sixth Grade Center/Givens to be converted into a single elementary building.
Crowding within elementary schools has been a problem for the past couple of years, prompting Avery, Clark and Edgar Road to install modular units on campus. However, the enrollment size is still rapidly growing.
The district website stated, “Since 2009, elementary resident enrollment has increased by 8 percent and total district enrollment has increased by 11 percent.”
Working out of a module is by no means close to an ideal educational environment. Clark elementary fifth grader, Owen Hartwig, feels that working out of a module or “pod” is highly disruptive to his schooling.
“The first reason [why the pods should be removed] is that the pods are back to back, which means that if one class is taking a test and the other class is screaming, they could be distracting the class taking the test and affect their work,” Hartwig said.
Along with being next to another class, the modules are in close proximity to the playground and students hear the recess noises (children yelling) throughout the school day.
Hartwig also feels that being separated from the school building creates issues.
“Sometimes the faubs [to get into the main building] do not work, that means if you have to go to the bathroom really badly, you have to wait forever for someone to come out and fix it.”
“If it’s raining and we have to go somewhere inside the building, we have to walk outside in the rain in a file and wait for everyone to go inside and that will take a bit.”
If Proposition E passes, all modules will be eliminated from the district and additional room will be created for roughly 400 elementary students by converting Steger/Givens into just an elementary school. Hixson will then expand to accommodate for the relocation of the sixth graders, which would, according to Public Relations Officer, Cathy Vespereny, “Adds significant space at the elementary level and addresses a long-standing inequity that left students in the northern part of Webster Groves without an elementary school in their neighborhood.”
“Moving sixth grade to Hixson would reduce the number of school transitions for students, offer more academic and extra-curricular options for sixth graders and allow a greater continuity of care for the academic, social and emotional needs of students.”
Proposition E increases safety levels at all schools in the district and solves overcrowding issues, if the bond were to fail, it is likely that more modules would need to be implemented, and safety and accessibility improvements would be limited to what is available within the district’s operating budget.
This will be Evelyn Trampe’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She is also a member of Quill and Scroll.