Westfield Washington Schools has created a strategic improvement plan that includes upgrades and additions to ensure continued academic success.
In the past 20 years, enrollment for WWS has increased with no signs of slowing down, according to WWS officials. School district leaders aim to maintain successful learning experiences for students and preserve the small-town charm with Destination Westfield, a project underway to build new schools and make renovations to existing schools.
According to WWS Assistant Supt. for Business and Operations Brian Tomamichel, combined enrollment has increased by 720 students in the past two years.
“That is larger than any of our six elementaries (schools) currently, enrollment-wise,” Tomamichel said.
Tomamichel said growth has been districtwide and has affected all nine WWS schools, putting each near enrollment capacity. He said the district is at a point where it needs to add more space for students.
Supt. of Westfield Schools Paul Kaiser said after speaking with educators, parents and administrators, it was decided by the WWS school board that the plan will move the district toward having eight elementary schools, two middle schools, no intermediate schools and one high school. He said the plan will not affect the city’s tax rate.
The strategic plan includes the following:
- Instead of moving to the Westfield Intermediate School, fifth-graders would stay in the six elementary schools, Kaiser said. A new seventh elementary school would be built at 171 St. and Towne Road, and Westfield Intermediate School would be renovated into an eighth elementary school.
“The majority of our educators, both teachers and administrators, would like to bring fifth grade back to elementary,” Kaiser said. “They feel it’s age appropriate and a sixth, seventh, eighth building provides less transitions.”
- Students in grades six through eight would transition to Westfield Middle School, and an additional middle school would be built at Ind. 32 and Centennial Road.
Kaiser said the plan will allow WWS to better meet the needs of sixth-graders and create more flexibility long term with the elementary schools.
“We have a lot of work to do, but that’s the consensus, and we feel that’s the direction we’re going to be moving forward,” Kaiser said.
- Another option is to renovate or rebuild Shamrock Springs Elementary School.
“We need to go back and revisit all of the elementary schools,” Kaiser said. “Most of them are 20 years old or getting near there.”
Plans have been discussed with architects about what changes will be made to existing elementary schools and how they will look in the next 10 years. Shamrock Springs Elementary School is among the schools set for improvements.
The plans won’t require a capital referendum, according to Tomamichel.
Schools built in the early 2000s have made it possible to execute the plan without affecting taxes as their debts are starting to fall off through their operation budgets.
“A lot of that debt is falling off at this time, so we have a lot of debt falling off as we move forward through strategic planning and planning with our budget,” Tomamichel said. “As we bring the debt on, our tax rate will stay flat if not still continue to decrease slightly as well as we move forward.”
As debts are paid off, room for new construction budgeting would be made. WWS will receive municipal bonds to pay for Destination Westfield.
WWS Director of Communications Joshua Andrews said construction firms are working with architects to establish designs and timelines. When complete, WWS will have estimates of how much the plan will cost.
According to Andrews, construction for the new elementary school and middle school will start this fall and will take about 36 months to complete. Overall, the plan is estimated to be completed by 2027.