I attended two forums about the new high school this past week. There I was told by the petitioners (who are seeking to block the building of the new high school until there are 2,100 JDHS students, 900 over capacity), that there would be 44 empty classrooms when the new high school opens. The Voter Information Guide statement of support for the initiative, written by the petitioners, states that there will be 39 empty classrooms. Where did those numbers come from, I thought? I know that there will be nine empty classrooms in JDHS, and seven in the new high school (roughly 80 percent capacity when it opens). The petitioners stated they are counting the 26 rooms in Marie Drake as empty. However, these rooms will not be empty. To assume the number of empty classrooms at Marie Drake into the high school numbers of empty classrooms could mislead people into thinking we do not need the space. The school district has many requests for use of Marie Drake, mostly to provide relief for middle school overcrowding. Floyd Dryden is at 150 percent capacity. The Adolescent Montessori Program wants space for their 7th through 12th program, BASE, ESL, JYS, Indian Studies and Harborview need space.
At the forums, the petitioners were saying JDHS is at a current daily membership of 1,485 students, so we do not need to build as student numbers are down from fall enrollment numbers. My point is that one cannot compare spring numbers to fall numbers. They are always lower, as students graduate early and there are dropouts. More importantly, count the current 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th-grade students in the Juneau School district enrollment report ( April 23, 2004) and project how many students to expect at JDHS this fall. The total number of students is 1,704. Capacity is 1,176, that is 528 students over capacity.
As a parent, grandparent and community member your vote on May 25 will decide whether we maintain the status quo with one large high school or whether we move forward with a valley high school and two smaller learning environments for our students. This is the biggest educational decision that you will make for your child. Juneau's vision has been two smaller schools as educational research is clear, all students perform better in smaller schools. Stay the course Juneau. "Build It Now." Vote "no" on May 25 to the conditions of the initiative.