Westfield Washington Schools’ enrollment has grown again, as predicted.
The enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is 7,845, more than 300 students from the 2016-17 total of 7,510 and nearly 700 more than the 2015-16 total of 7,164.
“We use these numbers to update that forecast annually,” WWS Supt. Sherry Grate said Sept. 21 during a State of the Schools program at the Westfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Bridgewater Club in Carmel.
Grate said a comprehensive facilities study was done to guide the needs of what she describes as the fastest growing district in the state. That led the schools’ capital referendum, which passed in May.
“We forecast to grow another 350 students at our intermediate school, 350 at our middle school and up to 1,000 students at our high school in the next five to 10 years,” Grate said. “The (construction) projects allow us to address the growth in enrollment. They allow us to expand curriculum opportunities for our students that have already been introduced, or they could be new to the system.”
Grate said the district wants to break ground on the intermediate and middle school next spring. Joe Montalone, WWS director of operations, said construction at the high school will likely follow six to nine months later.
“We’re in the schematic design process right now,” Montalone said. “We are literally getting thoughts and needs on paper with the architects and working with the construction firm, Skillman Corp., so it’s a process that will take us another three months before we look at bidding. It’s still in the infancy stage.”
A strategic planning committee team of staff and community stakeholders was formed during the 2016-17 school year. Grate said the mission was to educate the community on the various aspects of the system and get some feedback on things to consider as part of the district’s planning.
“One thing that came out is our mission and how we were going to start building our educational atmosphere for our students that will help them focus on growing socially, emotionally and academically and not for our future but for theirs,” Grate said. “The hardest thing about planning in education now is how will education look in five years, 10 years, 20 years. We want to be as forward thinking as we possibly can to better prepare our students for the future.”
Grate said each of the elementary schools added STEM teachers this school year.
Grate said the district is looking at expanding its fine arts and performing arts program.
“That is feedback we heard from the community,” Grate said. “The high school is focused on developing three major pathways, construction, hospitality and innovation.”
Grate said coffee talks will be held at various times of the day for questions from the community.
“We hope this will open the dialogue for people in the community to come and share their thoughts and ideas,” Grate said.
The school website has recently added a podcast, Inside the Rock. For more, visit k12.in.us.