Natrona County School District Considers Closing Elementary School(s)

During the past three years, Natrona County School District has worked diligently to develop a multi-year comprehensive budget plan by implementing proactive measures to shrink the District’s Operations in the interest of minimizing potential negative effects felt as a result of projected declining enrollment and shrinking revenues.

The Facility Condition and Capacity Study continues to review all schools and non-school facilities in the District moving forward for the purpose of assessing existing facilities for potential consolidation and/or closure. The study reviews current student capacity, facility condition, enrollment trends, available seats per site, number of staff per site, site conditions, and special programming at schools.

In light of a three year trend of decreasing elementary enrollment and excess capacity of elementary seats across the district and in efforts to continue be sensitive to budget constraints, facility maintenance, and excess capacity, there is a need to right size District facilities.

Enrollment projections generated by NCSD’s 2017 Open Enrollment process show further declining enrollment at the elementary level resulting in an excess capacity of 900 seats for the 2017-18 Academic Year. These figures are based on an 18:1 student to teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grade and 26:1 in fourth and fifth grade. Decisions based on final enrollment numbers will not be determined until after the 10-day drop deadline. Additionally, current recalibration work and future Legislative action regarding K-12 Education Funding will impact future recommendations of the study.

On August 4th, 2017 the Facility Condition and Capacity Study team provided the NCSD Board Construction Steering Committee with an update regarding the status of previously recommended actions involving facilities and information about the ongoing comprehensive Facilities Condition and Capacity Study in order to receive direction from the committee (BCSC).

Items Presented for Recommendation to Board Construction Steering Committee included:
• Star Lane Center/Fairdale Gym Closure - SLC building vacated Summer 2017; the Science Depot program is currently under review; awaiting decision from BCSC to mothball Star Lane while Science Depot (Fairdale Gym) is being phased out. Revisit once that phase-out is completed.
• Jefferson School (SESC) Closure - department relocated to CSF Main Campus and school sites; vacate building Summer 2018; awaiting decision to sell building from BCSC
• Westwood School Closure - IT specialists and music storage relocated to CSF Main Campus; building vacated Summer 2018; awaiting decision to mothball from BCSC
• North Casper School Closure - Currently being used to store excess equipment. Repurpose or auction surplus equipment/furniture storage Fall 2017; awaiting decision to sell building from BCSC

Items currently under study by the Facility Condition and Capacity Study Team include the possibility of closing one or more elementary schools for the Fall of the 2018-19 School Year, based on enrollment trends and capacity. To read the full report provided by the team, please click here.

NCSD recognizes the profound affect and impact this study has on students, parents, neighborhoods, communities, and district personnel.

"We will continue to be transparent in our on-going work towards creating strategies to do our part in remaining fiscally responsible while continuing to maintain a priority focus on student learning."