York County needs to ask for more

My remarks as prepared for the 2016-10-24 School Board Meeting (w/ video):

York County Schools are overcrowded and substandard, and the planning we’ve done since 2009 has produced this situation, so we need to ask for more now and in the future.  I’ve discussed some of this in email with you all, and I want to note a few points on where we are, what the current plan is, and where we are headed.

On May 9th, Dr. James presented the current and planned levels of overcrowding at York Elementary Schools (see this).  Overall  we’re at 97% capacity and projected to go to 101% capacity, without including the new school.  The target crowding level is 85% to 90%.    Dividing the projected enrollment by 85% to reach the required capacity ( 5924/0.85=6970 seats) is a basic 6th grade math problem.  Subtracting from that the projected capacity to get the required additional capacity of 1,093 is a 3rd grade math problem. (6970-5876=1093 additional instructional capacity.)  We should be asking for 1093 seats of additional elementary instructional capacity to accommodate the developments already planned.  A 500 seat school is not enough.

The enrollment at 97% total elementary capacity that we are currently at makes it impossible to do any rezoning to solve overcrowding and and bring all the rezoned schools into the 85-90% range, so the schools like Yorktown Elementary (with a 608 instructional capacity) end up running at 115% (with 699 students. ) At 115% capacity, YES does not have enough resources to manage its own problems internally.

Doing the 6th grade math,  this means YES needed more than the modular building to bring capacity to ideal levels.  169 to 214 additional seats of instructional capacity since last year to bring it into the ideal range. Adding the modular is an improvement, but it isn’t enough.  Right now, YES has substandard parking, substandard hard surface playgrounds (zero), and substandard usable lot size (230 students).  The county calculates YES’s usable lot size at 6.3 acres (see here),  produces a site capacity of only 230 students.  The undersized site makes it so the temporary buildings use up all the state mandated hard surface playgrounds, and also require a permanent zoning variance to push the Head Start trailer over the building lines.  YES can’t manage its own problems internally when saddled with the current 115% capacity. Let alone the projected overcrowding of 137%.  To rezone the projected 834 students (or 137%)  down to the 85-90% level, you’d need to rezone 205-240 students away from YES.

Now 20 schools at about $25M each is about a half billion worth of school infrastructure that YCSD has to maintain. On a 40 year depreciation schedule, that is about half of a school worth of maintenance or 12.5M$ each year just to offset decay. And that’s without attempting to finance a new school out of delayed maintenance.  From what I understand, the county directed YCSD to ask for less by pushing most maintenance off another two years, lowballing delayed maintenance by ignoring inflation and decay,  and shortening the CIP plan to 6 years to push things off the end of the planning window.

In 2009, seven years ago, YCSD started planning the new school to cover the expected  development, and that lead time wasn’t near enough to offset 7 percentage points worth of overcrowding we are experiencing.   In light of past performance, can you honestly say that the 6 year plan the with the 500-700 seat school in middle that you’ve delivered the Board of Supervisors is going to bring the York Elementary School System up to state standards?

The Board of Supervisors has not given you everything you ask for, but you should certainly be asking for enough to cover the planned development on the books with schools at state standards. You should also make it clear how shortchanging your plan will continue to produce substandard schools.
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Overall with 5457 K-5 students, we’re at 97% capacity and projected to go to 101% capacity with 5924 students, without including the new school.  The target crowding level is 85% to 90%.    Dividing 5924 by 85% to reach the required capacity of 6970 seats is a basic 6th grade math problem.  Subtracting from that the projected capacity of 5876 to get the required additional capacity of 1093 is a 3rd grade math problem.  We should be asking for 1093 seats of additional elementary instructional capacity to accommodate the developments already planned.  A 500 seat school isn’t enough

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