The plan's greatest benefit, however, would be its effect on the cramped classrooms at Stanford and Hustonville, said board member Mike Taylor.
"There are several space problems at Stanford Elementary, and it's great to have growth, but it can be frustrating from a facility perspective to handle that growth," said Taylor.
How will it affect Kings Mountain Elementary?
Taylor presented the board with copies of Plan E, born from the collaborative efforts of many, he said. Board member David Hacker called the plan a "wonderful idea," but questioned how it would affect Kings Mountain Elementary. While it is expected to be closed after the center's completion, Hacker wondered if the board knew how they would use the Kings Mountain building after the school was shut down. No answer was forthcoming.
This, among other reasons, was behind McGuffey's lone vote against Plan E, he said.
"It doesn't do that much for the middle school. You're going to be building on what is solid rock," said McGuffey, who also questioned leaving McKinney Elementary open while "putting Kings Mountain on the chopping block." Both schools are similar in enrollment, but Kings Mountain's is slightly lower, board members had said previously on that decision.
Stanford Elementary Principal Susan Kirkpatrick also voiced some concern over Plan E. While she supported the proposed sixth-grade center, she cautioned board members to plan for the immediate future as well. The elementary is currently over its cap size in grades two and three and is so pressed for space they have one educator working from a closet, said Kirkpatrick.
"The real problem is bodies in the building"
"The real problem is bodies in the building," said Kirkpatrick. When the wave of students peaked last year, the school decided to make the best of it, "suck it up" and order more books, said Kirkpatrick. "But when you went into the classroom, you couldn't move for all the desks," she added.
This year, with 24-27 children per classroom, the school is looking at another record 2004-2005 school enrollment and no extra space for it all, said Kirkpatrick.
In response, the board offered to purchase two new mobile units and hire one additional teacher for Stanford Elementary, at an estimated cost totaling $100,000. It would a one-year solution, said Kelley.
"That will get us through next year," agreed Kirkpatrick.
The option for two mobile units and an additional educator will be voted on Thursday during the board's regular June meeting. Plan E now faces the Facilities Planning Committee for approval June 7. If they approve the option, it will be sent to the state for review.
While the planning committee has supported former plans calling for a similar separated sixth-grade facility, Kelley said he was hesitant to expect another supporting vote just yet. "Lets wait and see," Kelley said.