New D-11 study to look at schools’ performance in addition to their utilization

       The Westside's small elementary schools may once again have to prove their worth as School District 11 embarks on another district-wide study with an overall goal of improved instructional efficiency.
       The recently announced School Configuration and Use Study Charge (SCUSC) follows the Long Range School Use (LRSUS) Task Force of 2004, which suggested that the Pike, Whittier and Ivywild school buildings were underutilized and should be reused or sold (which didn't happen). Before that there was the Westside Task Force, which urged Westside schools to consider becoming educational “magnets” so as to attract more students (which did happen in several cases, resulting in higher enrollments).
       Westside schools tend to be susceptible to closure possibilities because their buildings are generally small and old and (sometimes) they get low test scores.
       According to Elaine Naleski of District 11, the SCUSC committee will be looking less at utilization and more at each school's academic prowess. Solu-tions to problem schools would not necessarily be closures but could be unique configurations, such as partial-grade elementaries instead of the traditional K-5 concept, Naleski said. Another possibility is a school just for ninth-graders who are having trouble with high school work and might otherwise drop out, she said.
       Quoting from a District 11 press release, the study effort will:
       “Perform a series of reviews and assessments, including schools' performance and accreditation, program and grade configuration, and the utilization of fixed assets and resources.
       “Result in a school configuration master plan and associated implementation and resource plans.
       “Monitor the implementation of system changes.”
       For the study, the district plans to form a citizen-staff committee of 20 to 30 members for a period of one to three years. Anyone interested in joining should apply before May 18. For more information, call 520-2005.

Westside Pioneer/press release