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School district ramps up for new academic year; deal on Grande, Wildhorse properties could be coming

By From page A1 | August 22, 2014

The Davis school board heard an update on preparations for the start of the new school year, and also offered feedback on a proposed new logo for the school district, during Thursday’s meeting.

In addition, it appears that the school board could be talking about a real estate transaction involving the school district’s Grande and Wildhorse properties at some point in the near future.

Superintendent Winfred Roberson indicated that the district is currently expecting around 8,600 students — an increase of about 100 students over last year. However, enrollment figures are still somewhat fluid at this point — when classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 27, there will be some “no shows,” along with some parents trying to register their children on the first day of school.

Nonetheless, the basic shape of enrollment for the 2014-15 school year is emerging. The anticipated enrollment figures, as of Thursday, are:

Fairfield Elementary: 49 students. Montgomery Elementary: 451. Birch Lane Elementary: 604. North Davis Elementary: 570. Pioneer Elementary: 530. Chávez Elementary: 641. Willett Elementary: 517. Patwin Elementary: 406. Korematsu Elementary: 547. Harper Junior High: 630. Holmes Junior High: 710. Emerson/Da Vinci Junior High: close to 750. Davis High School: 1,720. Da Vinci (high school): 335. King High: 50. Davis School for Independent Study: 120.

Matt Best, assistant superintendent, added that the Emerson campus is now “close to capacity” — it was only eight or nine years ago that the school district briefly considered the possibility of closing the Emerson campus due to falling enrollment.

Class sizes for the new academic year are expected to average 25 students in grades K-3, 29 students in grades 4-6, 32 students in grades 7-9, and 32 students in grades 10-12. This reflects a reduction over last year’s figures, especially in the elementary grades. As a result, the school district has added some 15 elementary teaching positions across the district.

Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant said that a number of potential transfer students living outside the school district are on a waiting list, and the district may not know until mid-September whether the district can offer these students a seat in a classroom. “It is very, very tight,” Bryant said.

Elsewhere on the agenda, Roberson showed the school board two draft versions of a new school district logo. Each version contained the name of the school district, and the phrases “Engage, Inquire, Innovate, Inspire” and “Leading the Way.”  One version included a four-pointed pinwheel at the center of the logo, the other version included a multi-point design suggesting a compass.

The school board trustees asked for more work on the proposed logo redesign.

“I am not a big fan of either of them,” said trustee Sheila Allen.

School board president Gina Daleiden recommended that the logo be redesigned to suggest an image of a school or children who are students. Trustee Alan Fernandes agreed that “some expression of a school would be appropriate,” as well as “some focus on children.”

And trustee Tim Taylor said, “I do not like the pinwheel.” And he suggested that the compass-like design in the other alternative might be  more appropriate for a school district on the coast.

At the start of the meeting, Daleiden also read out a carefully worded statement  noting that the school board had discussed a possible real estate transaction involving the Grande and Wildhorse properties (both declared “surplus” by the school board several years ago).

Daleiden indicated that no action was taken during Thursday’s closed session, adding that “the public will be informed when any decisions are made … and the process of the sale will be public and transparent.” The school board is clearly considering a possible deal involving one or both properties. But nothing is certain at this point.

Jeff Hudson

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