By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education addressed high school overcrowding, boundary line changes and options future plans for expansion at a special meeting Aug. 29.
Following presentations on the three topics, the board was interested in a smaller expansion at Dearborn High School as well as information regarding possible classroom additions at Edsel Ford High School and the DPS Dearborn Heights campus.
Trustees also wanted enrollment projections on the possibility of matching high school attendance boundaries with middle school lines and enrollment projections based on possible boundary changes.
Trustee Hussein Berry was absent from the meeting.
During the meeting, projected attendance numbers for the 2017-18 school year were presented with DHS at 2,087, EHS at 1,512 and Fordson High School at 2,827 students.
Over the past two years the district has added five classrooms at Fordson, three at Dearborn and one at Lowrey School.
Four expansion plans for DHS were presented to the board which could cost up to $10 million.
Option A includes 14 classrooms with 10 classrooms in upper G Hall and four classrooms on G hall main floor at an estimated cost of $8.4 million.
Option B includes eight classrooms with four classrooms inside the courtyard wall and four classrooms on G hall main floor at an estimated cost of $4.7 million.
Option C includes 10 classrooms with a remodel of the current media center into six classrooms and four classrooms on G Hall main floor at a cost of $6.9 million. Also included is a new media center expansion and possible additional four classrooms in courtyard for $1.6 million.
Option D includes 14 classrooms with a remodel of the current media center into six classrooms and four classrooms on G Hall main floor and four additional classrooms attached to the relocated media center. Also included is a new media center expansion. The cost is estimated at $9.3 million.
All options presented included expanding the cafeteria, $300,000 for mechanical upgrades. DPS Director of Operations Jeff Burek said plans can be phased out and board members could pick and choose options from each plan to create a new plan they feel is best.
A new option of adding a fieldhouse at EHS was presented by DPS Student Services Director Abe Mashhour who said the space could create 20 classrooms. The fieldhouse would include a new pool and weight room.
Mashhour said a fieldhouse built in Waterford had a cost of $9 million while DPS Executive Director of Business Tom Wall cited Woodhaven spent $30 million to build its fieldhouse.
EFHS Principal Scott Casebolt was in favor of a new fieldhouse because additional students can bring the school more elective classes and student clubs.
He also said more students at EFHS could relieve the overcrowding at DHS and FHS, allowing students to travel more smoothly in the hallways.
Trustees said they are not considering the options to build a new $90 million high school or $60 million FHS ninth grade academy because of the cost and time to construct.
New additions to buildings would not be completed until 2019 or 2020 which would be after the projected enrollment peak in 2018-19.
DHS Principal Adam Martin said 35 teachers at the school move at least once a day and teachers use the media center computers. Regular teachers also leave their classrooms during their prep time because another teacher needs the classroom to teach.
The boundary line discussion was popular with trustees to create a more balanced number of students attending the three high schools.
Martin said that if the DHS enrollment drops to 1,850 due to boundary line changes, a large expansion would not be needed for the possible short-term enrollment increase.
All trustees agreed that boundary line changes could be the efficient way to address high school enrollment issues, but could also create issues with parents who would not want to send their children to a different high school than originally planned. The results of a boundary change will take four years to complete its impact.
If boundary line changes are made, they would not impact the upcoming school year and would only change high schools for incoming freshman. Students already in high school would not have to change schools.
Suggested changes included DHS receiving all students from Bryant and Unis middle schools, EFHS getting all Salina, Smith and Stout middle schools students and FHS receiving all students from Lowrey and Woodworth middle schools.
Trustees said they would get more information to begin creating a plan by the Sept. 11 board meeting. Following the meeting community meetings would be scheduled to explain the district’s plan and give residents an opportunity to give their input.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)