District Reorganization Proposal

What is the District proposing?

Reducing from six buildings to four buildings for the 2017-18 school year as follows:

  • 9th through 12th grade – Brandon High School
  • 6th through 8th grade – Brandon Middle School
  • Junior Kindergarten through 5th grade – Oakwood Elementary
  • Junior Kindergarten through 5th grade – Harvey-Swanson Elementary
  • Preschool – In the preschool wing at Harvey-Swanson
  • Adult transition program – at Brandon High School
  • Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School would be closed at the end-of-the-year.

When would this proposal take effect?

It would take effect beginning in the fall of 2017

How is this good for the Brandon School District?

By reorganizing, the Brandon School District can preserve class sizes and protect our classrooms while saving $800,000 to $1,200,000 annually

How is this good for Brandon financially?

  • Enrollment losses - Since the 2006 school year, the district has lost 1,093 students which represents more than $8 million less in annual revenue than 11 years. For the 2017-18 school year, the district projects to lose between 100 and 125 students.

  • Continued right sizing is needed for 2017-18 and beyond – As a result of these declines and an increase in fixed costs, the district needs to reduce expenditures by approximately $1 million for the 2017-18 school year. There are no easy cuts to be made and we are committed to keeping reductions as far away from the classroom as possible.

  • Significant operational costs from the Clean Water Millage remain – In August, the community declined to assist the district with $2.2 million in mandatory operational costs for the waste water treatment plant, the aquatic center roof and restrooms. These costs all remain.

  • Considerable savings from reconfiguration - The district can save between $800,000 and $1.2 million a year by reconfiguring from six to four buildings. Currently, we use just over 50% of our available classroom space if we do not count the Belle Ann Elementary site.

What other positives would come from this configuration?

  • Elementary students will have six to eight years in the same school. This is ideal for students socially, emotionally and academically. It is also ideal for transitions between grades and collaboration among staff.

  • 6th graders as middle school students have opportunities that they would not have as elementary students. These include increased access to classes such as foreign language, band/choir, technology, art and more. Additionally, it is optimal for students being placed at the academic level that best meets their individual needs. Finally, middle school students are taught by subject area experts in all subject areas.

  • We will be able to take some of the successes of the Brandon Academy and bring them into our other buildings. This includes having less transitions between schools, the value of arts and music, STEAM education and multi-age ideas such as looping.

  • By being more efficient, there will be opportunities for some creative programs to blossom within the buildings. The future for our students is changing rapidly and we need to be able to place resources in areas that will help our students to flourish in this new economy.

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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why is reconfiguration good for the Brandon School District?

We can deliver the same or better quality to our families while saving $800,000 - $1,200,000 dollars a year. Our current financial situation requires these reductions and this is a way to protect our classrooms while providing the needed savings.

 

2. What are the financial reasons that the Brandon School District is considering this option?

  • Enrollment losses - Since the 2006 school year, the district has lost 1,093 students which represents more than $8 million less in annual revenue than 11 years ago. For the 2017-18 school year, the district projects to lose between 100 and 125 students.

  • Continued right sizing is needed for 2017-18 and beyond – As a result of these declines and an increase in fixed costs, the district needs to reduce expenditures by approximately $1 million for the 2017-18 school year. There are no easy cuts to be made and we are committed to keeping reductions as far away from the classroom as possible.

  • Significant operational costs from the Clean Water Millage remain – In August, the community declined to assist the district with $2.2 million in mandatory operational costs for the waste water treatment plant, the aquatic center roof and restrooms. These costs all remain.

  • Considerable savings from reconfiguration - The district can save between $800,000 and $1.2 million a year by reconfiguring from six to four buildings. Currently, we use just over 50% of our available classroom space if we do not count the Belle Ann Elementary site.Why has the district lost so many students over the past decade?

3. Why has the district lost so many students over the past decade?

  • Less young people – When comparing the kindergarten class that was born in 2000 vs. those that entered school last year, Michigan has 15% fewer students, Oakland County 18% and 37% for Brandon.

  • More options – Across the State, there are more options for education. Homeschool, virtual schools and charters have pulled many students from traditional public schools.

  • School-of-choice decline – 10-12 years ago, Brandon was one of the only districts that offered school-of-choice. Today, school-of-choice families have many more options some of which offer a more convenient location.

4. What are the other reconfiguration models that were considered?

  • Option 1: District configuration stays the same (9-12, 7-8, 4-6 and 2 JK-3). The high school building is divided into two schools on one campus. This is a model that Brandon had in the 1980’s and in the 1990’s before the middle school was built. This offers the highest savings, but we received considerable negative feedback on this model.

  • Option 2: Lower elementary (Jk-2), upper elementary (3-5), middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12). We really liked this option academically, but there is not enough space at Oakwood to do this. There are only 18 classrooms in that building as opposed to 32 at Brandon Fletcher.

  • Option 3: (2) JK-4th elementary schools, intermediate school (5th-6th) and middle school (6th-7th) on a shared campus, and high school (9th-12th). The issue with this model was that the shared campus was going to be very crowded and it offered the lowest savings.

5. What happens if we do not reconfigure the district?

The district will need to find significant reductions in other areas. There are no easy cuts and these would likely be more painful. Reconfiguration gives us the savings without negatively effecting what takes place in the classroom.

 

6. How do you save money by reconfiguring from six to four buildings?

The more buildings and programs you have, the more expensive it is to operate any district or business. For schools, much of the savings come from the extra staffing required by having extra schools. Additionally, there are significant buildings costs from cleaning and maintaining, as well as the enormous operational cost of a building. As an example, Harvey-Swanson has $710,000 of planned operational upkeep that would be required in the next few years. This does not include unanticipated costs such as failed septic fields, boilers, fire alarm systems and so much more. The bottom line is that it costs a lot more to have six buildings than it does four.

 

7. What are our enrollment projections for the next 5 years?

Simply doing a year-over-year count (example: this year’s 3rd grade student count becomes next year’s 4th), these are our anticipated student losses by year: 2017-18 (84), 2018-19 (93), 2019-20 (76), 2020-21 (40), 2021-22 (45). These can adjust up or down, but these give us a realistic look at our enrollment trend.

 

8. If this happens, do you anticipate that the configuration will have to be changed again at some point?

The K-5 model gives us great flexibility to grow or decline as a district. Unless the district had a dramatic and unanticipated decline or increase, this model should be ideal for many years.

 

9. Which building would close and what are your plans for it?

Brandon Fletcher Intermediate has been chosen for closure. It is the intent to sell this property.

 

10. What are the benefits of having 6th grade at the middle school level?

The most common middle school model across the country is 6th through 8th. These are a few of the many reasons: 

  • They will be taught by highly qualified, subject area teachers in all subject areas. Elementary teachers are typically experts in elementary education as opposed to specific subject area.

  • The middle school schedule is ideal for grouping students to provide accelerated learning or learning support groups.

  •  There will be more opportunities for quality experiences in foreign language, Band/choir, art, technology and more.

11. What are some of the advantages of a JK through 5th grade system?

  • More continuity between grade levels and among teachers

  • Less transitions for students which is great socially, emotionally and academically

  • Increased collaboration among staff

12. Where will preschool be located?

Preschool will be located in the preschool wing on the Harvey-Swanson campus. It is designed for early childhood and is perfect for preschool. It does not appear that there will be enough space at Oakwood to house preschool classes next year.

 

13. How does the Brandon Academy of Art and Science fit within this model?

This current plan infuses BAAS concepts within our JK-5 buildings, but does not have it as a stand-alone school as it is today. The following are the financial challenges that make is difficult to maintain BAAS in its current form:

  • When the Brandon School District agreed to allow the former Lutheran School to join the district as the Brandon Academy in the summer of 2013, the following were the terms of the agreement:

    i. BAAS was to be an alternative to the traditional school setting with the goal of attracting new school-of-choice families to the district or perhaps appealing to Brandon residents that had chosen to educate their children elsewhere.

    ii. It was to be a financial benefit to the Brandon School District and was, in no way, to negatively impact the other schools or the district’s budget.
  • There are 84 students in BAAS with 19 school-of-choice students. Since 2014, only one new school-of-choice family has joined the school. A large majority of current BAAS students came from schools within our own school district.

  • Class sizes are very low and all 84 students could be absorbed in our other buildings without adding a single staff member (example: there are seven 3rd grade students. One or two students could join each of the other 3rd grade classes and class sizes would still remain optimal). This means that the district employs an additional 4.5 teachers, a director, office staff, custodial, has an additional building open etc. The base cost of BAAS is $574,000 not including central services, capital outlay or other anticipated costs such as legal fees.

  • Unfortunately, in its current form, BAAS is putting additional strain on the district’s budget.

14. What other alternatives exist for the Brandon Academy of Art and Science?

While this proposal would not retain BAAS as a separate school for the reasons listed above, the following are a few of the BAAS concepts that we would like to make available in the other schools: 

  • STEAM - Project Lead the Way was introduced by the district to BAAS this school year. This STEAM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) is being explored as a possible program for our JK-5 programs for next year.

  • Looping - The district would like to explore multi-age options such as looping for families seeking an alternative to the traditional classroom setting.

  • Character Education - Character education will be a discussion for the entire Brandon School District.

  • Continuity over several years - The K-5 model captures much of the continuity appreciated by BAAS families. Students will have an opportunity to stay together for six to eight years depending on preschool.

  • Music and drama - BAAS values art and music. The district would like to consider ways to infuse more opportunities for K-5 students in areas such as drama. At middle school, we are looking to have drama classes and a fall musical in addition to the robust band and choir programs.

  • Keeping students together - An opportunity to keep current BAAS students together as much as possible (for example, if there are 3 BAAS third grade students, perhaps they could all be in the same class in the fall).

15. What are you planning to do with Belle Ann Elementary School?

The district would like to sell Belle Ann Elementary School and use the proceeds to help pay for the waste water treatment plant.

 

Additional Questions


Additional questions have been asked by staff and families. Please click on the link below to view these questions and answers.