Attention Readers
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, C & G Newspapers has temporarily suspended its print publications. We look forward to resuming our print operation in the coming weeks. In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter. We hope you stay healthy and safe.

Restructuring sees programs, offices shifted for upcoming Ferndale school year

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published September 3, 2015

 Ferndale Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt sits in his new central office, a former classroom, at Ferndale High School and Middle School on Aug. 27. The move of the administrative offices to the high school and middle school building was part of the district’s restructuring plan.

Ferndale Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt sits in his new central office, a former classroom, at Ferndale High School and Middle School on Aug. 27. The move of the administrative offices to the high school and middle school building was part of the district’s restructuring plan.

Photos by Deb Jacques

Advertisement

FERNDALE — The Ferndale School District’s youngest and oldest students, as well as its administrators, will all have new homes once the school year starts up after Labor Day.

The district completed the first part of its restructuring process this summer. Earlier this year, the district worked with the community on a restructuring plan for the entire district, as there was space for nearly 7,000 students, yet the district projects having just over 3,000 students this year.

In March, the Board of Education approved restructuring the elementary schools in the district from three buildings to two, moving several programs around and closing, and eventually selling, three buildings.

This summer was the first step in the process, as central offices moved from the Harding Administration Center to the Ferndale High School and Middle School building on Pinecrest Drive. The district also moved all early childhood programs into one location at the Harding building and moved the alternative and adult education programs into the Grant building.

“Like most districts in this area, the state has lost enrollment significantly over the last 10 years, so almost all school districts are getting smaller because there are not as many students,” Superintendent Blake Prewitt said. “We are trying to keep within the budget and do what is best for the kids by downsizing the district. We once had between 6,000 and 7,000 kids, and now we have just over 3,000, but had the same number of buildings. We don’t need all that space anymore.”

Last school year, the district moved the alternative education program from the Taft building to the Jefferson Center, along with the adult education program. By moving both programs to Grant, the district is now looking to sell the Jefferson Center and the Taft building to residential development companies.
The school board approved selling the Jefferson Center this summer to Community Housing Network, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for those in need.

“A financially stable school district is built around the students we have,” he said. “By having a school building go offline, we can bring new families into the community, and that helps the tax level and brings up housing prices in the area. It is really a win-win for the district and the community.”

School board President Jim O’Donnell said the move to the Grant building for the adult and alternative education programs is in line with the move the district made last year to better educate the students.

“The single biggest thing that will be occurring is this move allows us to really put our students first,” he said. “This provides more stability for those programs, which will help the overall success of the students and increase the graduation rate. Our programs are in great shape and continue to be leaders in the state.”

The central administration offices were moved to the FHS/FMS building almost immediately after the school year ended in June. Besides freeing up space, Prewitt said, the move allows the administrators to be in the thick of things in an education building.

“I love having the offices here and love being around the students and can’t wait for the school year to start,” he said. “It is much more economical and using the space intelligently. Being here helps us in central office remember why we are in this, which is for the kids.”

The biggest changes in the district will be taking place next summer when the remainder of the restructuring process takes place.

The elementary schools will be restructured, with Roosevelt Elementary School housing kindergarten through second grade starting in 2016 and John F. Kennedy Elementary School housing third through fifth grade. The sixth grade will move into the FHS/FMS building.

With all elementary classes moving out of Coolidge Intermediate School, University High School will move operations to Coolidge and the Wilson building will be sold.

While the changes this year aren’t going to be as drastic as next summer, O’Donnell said this is a necessary step to make sure the entire restructuring process takes place smoothly.

“This will be a year of a lot of careful planning and a lot of laying the groundwork for the changes that will happen next year,” he said.

For more information on the restructuring process, visit www.ferndaleschools.org/district/restructuring.

Advertisement