Lincoln Consolidated Schools to empty Bessie Hoffman, move multiage program to main campus
Lincoln Consolidated School’s multiage program will move to Brick Elementary School on the district’s main campus next school year.
The proposal, approved by the school board in a 5-1 vote tonight, means Bessie Hoffman will be emptied of students, but its future use has not yet been determined. The move is expected to save $250,000.
Photo courtesy of Lincoln Consolidated Schools
The plan to shutter Bessie Hoffman as an elementary school is among several proposals the district has been considering to address its budget problems.
Under the new arrangement, the district will distribute the six sections of incoming first-graders at Brick to its other elementary schools to make room for the the roughly 300 multiage program students.
Brick will see grades 1-5 again the following school year,
Board President Kim Samuelson said.
If voters agree to pass a proposed bond for facility improvements in May, a separate entrance and an office for the multiage program will be added, Samuelson said.
“It’s fair to say it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best solution in term of expansion, keeping the program intact and honoring the integrity and philosophy of the program,” she said.
The students in the program receive a unique education and are taught according to their “developmental age” instead of their actual age.
The plan was met with unease by parents of students in the program after the last board meeting. District officials held a small meeting earlier in the day with a group of two Bessie Hoffman parents, two Bessie Hoffman teachers and administrators to answer questions.
Samuelson said the main concern was changes would be made to the program to force it to fit into the new building.
“I think we were able to communicate some answers to their concerns,” she said. “We tried to tell them that it’s a constantly evolving situation, especially in the first year, so we’re going to be constantly assessing it.”
Around 60 Bessie Hoffman parents showed up at tonight's meeting, but only one representative spoke during public comments to read a letter on behalf of all the parents.
Jeff Kaiser told the board some parents felt all the options hadn't been considered, and there was a breakdown in communication between parents and board members during the decision-making process.
He went on to recap the promises board members and district officials made at the meeting earlier in the day, and insisted the board “do everything in your power to maintain the integrity and spirit of our beloved school.”
Samuelson said Brick will not see any physical alterations, and the most significant change will be using two floors instead of one in the building.
The board expects a significant savings from not busing kids across the 75-square mile district to the building, which lies seven miles southeast of the main campus in Wayne County.
The future use of the Bessie Hoffman building hasn't been determined.
Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2530.