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Chat about growth in the Tonganoxie school system with Supt. Richard Erickson

January 10, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

The growth of Tonganoxie's school system has led to the creation of a new middle school and improvements to the high school. <a href="http://www.6newslawrence.com/news/2007/jan/04/2007_ushers_new_school_tonganoxie/">See the 6News report.</a> Richard Erickson takes your questions at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Moderator:

Thank you for joining this chat with Tonganoxie Schools Supt. Richard Erickson. My name is Haley Harrison and I will be moderating the chat today.

Richard Erickson:

Haley, thank you for oportunity to share about some of the exciting new changes in the Tonganoxie School District.

jctongks:

Dr Erickson, It is my understanding that when the new school renovations and buildings were complete the temporary trailers would be removed. One of the board meetings I attended prior to the bond issue had a consultant presenting information to the board and patrons. This consultant stated that having the trailers on the premises showed the Taxpayers that the district needed more room. We now have the additional space, but I am hearing rumors that the trailers will be staying. If this is the case could you please explain the reasoning behind this. As a voter, I felt my vote would help in the process of removing the temporary structures and eliminate the need for students (in the Elementary School) to be subjected to the elements.

Richard Erickson:

Your vote provided many new spaces for the USD 464 students and I am truly grateful. We are removing the modular class rooms from the high school campus. The modular class rooms at the elementary school will continue to be utilized as we plan for an all-day every day kindergarten program that will require 4 additional classrooms. We have experienced enrollment increase over the past 5 years and we want to make sure that we have additional class rooms space if needed for enrollment increases. In summary we are selling 2 of the 4 modular class rooms and we are keeping the two modular class rooms at TES.

imastinker:

Dr. Erickson,

The new schools looks great! Is there a concern that the housing slowdown in Tonganoxie may cause the district hardship paying back the loan for the recent expansion? If the area does continue to grow as it has in recent years, how long will the existing schools be adequate?

Richard Erickson:

The USD 464 enrollment is approximately 1730 students. I am hopeful that with the present facilities, we have the space to grow to a 2000 - 2200 student enrollment. How quickly this growth takes place is anybody's guess however it is my hope that the present expansion will serve the school district's needs for the next 5-10+ years.

Moderator:

Since TES principal Jerry Daskoski resigned recently, what are the district's plans to fill that position? And are those plans temporary or long term?

Richard Erickson:

Mrs. George, Assistant Principal at TES and Ms. Lindsay Graff, Counselor at TES, will assume many of the administrative duties at TES for the second semester of the 2006-2007 school year. It is my hope that this spring USD 464 will take applications for the administrative vacancy and that Tonganoxie Elementary School will employ two administrators for the 2007-2008 school year.

emilyhadley:

Thanks for this opportunity. With the new changes, how many sections will there be per grade, and what are the current class sizes?

Richard Erickson:

At TES, there is room to accomodate 6 sections of all grades K-4. At the new Tonganoxie Middle School there is space to expand to 7 sections per grade level. The class sizes vary according to each individual class. I am very pleased with the student-teacher ratios at Tonganoxie Elementary School as most classes range from 18 to 22 students per teacher. The new Tonganoxie Middle School student teacher ratios are higher and there are a few classes with student teacher ratios in the high 20s to low 30s which I hope can be reduced as we prepare for next year. Most THS class sizes range from 15 - 25 and I am generally pleased about the student teacher ratios at THS.

emilyhadley:

As a native and graduate of Tonganoxie, I felt very limited by electives that did not help to prepare for college and active citizenship (home economics, OJT, wood shop, etc.). I have always been concerned with the need for more academic elective choices.
Will the size of the school system now allow students to study subjects such as French, International Politics, or World History, so that they can enjoy the many benefits of growing up in Tonganoxie while being engaged in and prepared for the rest of the world?

Richard Erickson:

The electives will be increased with the improved facilities at THS. There will be consideration given to continuing to increase the college dual credit classes above the 30+ credit hours that are presently offered at THS for junior and senior level students. There will also be a great deal of consideration given to expanding the vocational curriculum with the new vocational facilities that have been provided with the building construction on the THS campus. There has been discussion of extending the foreign language program to the elementary school in order that students may accelerate to higher level foreign language classes in high school.

Moderator:

Thanks to Supt. Richard Erickson for joining us this afternoon. We appreciate all of the questions from our readers.

Richard Erickson:

Haley, thanks again for the oportunity to visit about the Tonganoxie School District, and many thanks to the USD 464 patrons for providing the needed space for our students through the 25.3 million dollar bond election!

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