Streetsboro -- Overcrowding has become a problem at Wait Primary School, but it's one which would be resolved with approval Nov. 5 of the school district's 4.56-mill bond issue which would pay for the district's school facilities plan, said Wait Primary School Principal Amy Cruse.
Under the plan, classrooms housing preschool through second-grade students -- who are now at Wait Primary School -- would be added on to a renovated Campus Elementary School, and Wait Primary School would be closed.
Wait currently houses 189 kindergartners and 188 first-graders. With the move and addition, the overcrowding would be addressed.
Lack of space also is preventing the expansion of the district's preschool program, which is housed at Wait. Currently, there are four classes, two morning classes and two afternoon classes, said Cruse.
"We're trying to build a preschool program, and because we're at capacity here, we can't," she said, adding the morning class has a waiting line.
Students participating in preschool at Wait should have a much easier transition to kindergarten than those in other programs, and it also gives school officials the opportunity to identify students with learning disabilities earlier than would otherwise be the case, said Cruse.
"There are early childhood standards every preschool has to meet," she said. "You're getting a quality preschool."
The expansion at Campus will open up a variety of instructional options that aren't possible now, said Cruse.
The classrooms themselves would be larger in the new facility, she said.
Since the state is contributing a bit more than $24 million to the project, the district must adhere to standards required by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which includes standards for classroom size.
Since there are two kindergarten classrooms at Wait which meet the OFCC's size requirements for new schools accepting state money, Cruse said she sees first-hand the difference a new, larger classroom would make for teachers.
"The teachers really can meet the needs of the kids in the larger room," she said.
Assigning group projects and setting up learning centers have become important teaching techniques, she said.
"That just can't happen in a classroom that's so small," she said.
In the smaller rooms, it's also difficult to provide space for children to sit on the floor to listen to a teacher read a book, said Cruse.
The average kindergarten class size is 23 students, which is on the large side, she added.
Students would benefit from smaller classes.
"Any time you can decrease the student-teacher ratio the kids are going to benefit," she said. "All the research done points to that."
The move to Campus also would provide the opportunity for more collaboration among teachers and students that is difficult or impossible with Wait open, said Cruse.
When older students -- third-graders, for example -- have the opportunity to act as mentors to kindergartners or preschoolers, everyone benefits, said Cruse.
"The older students get the chance to build confidence in their skills" and the younger students get extra instructional attention and sometimes understand concepts if they are explained to them from a different perspective.
Busing and transportation also would much simpler with all the district's students at one campus, said Campus Elementary School Principal Kristen Cottrell.
In addition to the challenge of organizing busing, Art Teacher Michelle Forsyth, Music Teacher Mark Izzo, Physical Education Teacher Elle Ashby and Technology Teacher Cindy Walker spend half the week at Wait and half the week at Campus. In a shared building, they may have their own room which would they would not leave midweek, said Cottrell.
In a new or renovated facility, teachers also may have a better place to plan their classes and grade, said Cruse. Currently, the teachers' work area at Wait is on the old stage at the back of the old gym.
Cruse also said there are many small things that are not big problems but need updating, such as the playground.
"[Students] are not suffering because of this, but there's better equipment out there," she said.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens