Issues Confronting Carlsbad Municipal Schools
The issues confronting Carlsbad Municipal Schools and its educational program are growth related. Structures that were put in place 20 years ago or more can no longer allow for the delivery of a quality education.
Enrollment has grown from 5,940 in 2004 to 7051 in 2019. Elementary enrollment in particular has grown steadily and now stands at 3640 up from 2838 in 2004.
Early Childhood Education Center
The design of our educational program is a separate kindergarten building with an enrollment of 580 up from 493 in 2004.
Growth projections place enrollment in the ECEC building with no changes at 859 students, which the current building cannot accommodate. This would also completely overwhelm our student transportation system.
The ingress and egress to this building has been increasingly compromised as traffic on State Road 524/West Lea Street increases due to growth.
The use of transportation hubs from home schools is becomingly increasingly difficult to sustain.
The growth in the Ocotillo and Desert Willow attendance zones is resulting in increasingly longer bus rides for kindergarten students.
It also requires the use of Instructional Assistants to ensure that students are transitioned to buses or parents at each hub.
The use of these hubs also has a cascade effect on all dismissals if buses are delayed for unforeseen reasons.
The attendance of kindergarten students at a separate facility also places a significant burden on parents with multiple children attending different schools.
Instructionally lessening the number of transitions a student undergoes in their educational career has been demonstrated to have a significant positive impact on learning.
For these reasons I am recommending that we transition the district to a K-5 model at all of our elementary schools. We would then use the existing ECEC building to house kindergarten for Cottonwood and our entire pre-school program. This would support efforts to increase and improve earlychildhood education, which is in line with state and national points of educational emphasis.
The Ocotillo attendance zone continues to grow and shows no signs of abating. This prompted the district to move 133 students to Edison Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year in anticipation of opening Cottonwood Elementary in the fall of 2020. The pace of development in this area is resulting in a forecasted enrollment of 861 students with no change in school attendance zones.
We are recommending the reopening of Riverside Elementary after a remodel and addition of classrooms to accommodate the addition of kindergarten to the building. This should create sufficient capacity to absorb new growth when coupled with other elementary school renovation/expansion projects.
We have several needs at the high school. Redesign of our instructional program there to accommodate a career pathways/academy model will take time and needs to occur before we address the facility needs for that transition.
Growth in our band program and other programs necessitates the addition of a Performing Arts Center to the High School. This will allow for whole class assemblies, and allow for all parents to attend major performances and events. It will also allow for gathering of all staff for presentations when necessary. For these reasons we are recommending the construction of an 1100 seat center, which was in the original plans for the high school.
The addition of sports programs after the construction of the Field House has resulted in the district piecemealing locker room facilities to meet needs. The current facilities are inadequate and in need of significant upgrades. We are recommending the construction of a multi-sport locker room facility to meet those needs and a renovation of the existing Field House to house training facilities, conditioning programs, and other needs.
Our current middle school program design utilizing Alta Vista as a 6th grade Academy and P.R. Leyva as a 7th and 8th grade campus is becoming unsustainable due to enrollment growth and transportation issues similar to those created by ECEC. We are recommending the transition of students back into a two middle school model followed by the construction of a 900 student middle school on the south side of Carlsbad and a significant upgrade of the P.R. Leyva campus. This would be addressed in a separate bond after the completion of the elementary upgrades and wrapped into upgrades at the high school. If enrollment exceeds projections we would need to go back to the community to address these needs sooner, but this would require an increase in the tax rate.