Double-shifting will begin in Post Falls public schools next fall to alleviate overcrowding.
School board members unanimously approved the plan Monday night, saying they felt they had no choice given the failure of three bond elections to build a new high school.
“I’ve always considered double-shifting in this district as a last resort,” said trustee Richard Wallace. “That’s where we are.”
Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will go to school in five-hour shifts - one starting in the morning, the other in the afternoon. They will attend the junior high school, which now has about 660 students. That number will drop to about 450 per shift.
The move will take sixth-graders out of elementary schools, freeing 11 classrooms to make room for more children in the fast-growing district.
The biggest space crunch is in the junior and senior high schools. Board members were reluctant to double-shift sixth-graders, thinking that the younger children should be subjected to less disruption.
But administrators recommended against double-shifting at the high school. Superintendent Richard Harris said that would require cutting hours of classroom time, which would put the high school at risk of losing its accreditation.
“Seniors need to be coming out of an accredited high school” if they’re going on to college, Harris said.
The decision came after a series of public hearings during the past month.
Some parents complained about the disruption double-shifting would cause, but board members were encouraged by the fact that most parents told them they would support whatever difficult decision the board had to make.
The biggest expense involved in two shifts is additional busing. But, while transportation costs will increase an estimated $247,000 per year, the state will reimburse 85 percent of that the following year, said fiscal officer Sid Armstrong.
The added first-year expense will be covered by the district’s contingency fund.
Board chairman Kevin Schneidmiller said he likes the double-shifting plan, in part because it would keep the district from spending its share of lottery proceeds on more portable classrooms.
The four board members who voted Monday bemoaned the disruption double-shifting would cause families - a concern voiced by many parents during a series of public hearings held in the past month.
Board member Ed Adamchak repeatedly pointed out how difficult it will be for parents to get their children to extracurricular activities given the complicated schedule.
But trustees agreed there is no good solution short of building a new high school.
The plan calls for another bond election in spring 1998. Harris said he could not recommend another election this spring.
Bond supporters are weary after campaigning twice in the last year. He said the additional time will allow the district to get the word out about the need for new facilities.
Although the last two bond proposals were approved by 63 percent of the voters, that was short of the two-thirds majority needed under state law.
“We’ve been using Band-Aids to solve this problem for the last three years,” Harris said of overcrowding. “We’ve run out of Band-Aids.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: POST FALLS PLAN Recommendation to the Post Falls School Board from Superintendent Dick Harris for student housing and scheduling for the 1997-98 school year: Double-shift at the junior high school with sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Implement year-round single-track school-within-a-school at Prairie View Elementary if there is an adequate sign-up. Hold a bond election for new high school facilities for grades 9-12 and an upgrade of the heating system at the existing high school. Include Ponderosa and Seltice air-conditioning systems in the bond election if there is adequate support for year-round schools.