EDITOR'S DESK: Readin’, writin’, studyin’, configurin’
The situation of Bijou School's ancient buildings is no fun for its staff or students - especially when they don't know if they will be staying or moving.
As noted in the story starting on Page 1, District 11 has been holding off on Bijou's bond issue repairs because of the possibility that better facility space might get freed up elsewhere, based on the soon-to-be-released report from the School Configuration and Use Study Committee.
The thinking when the committee formed last April was that some district buildings are not being used to their fullest potential, and that creative solutions could remedy this situation, in terms of efficiency and education... which is all well and good until specific recommendations come forward. And then some of us on the Westside might not be so thrilled. I do not say this from inside knowledge of the committee's plans (I have none), but rather from studies in past years, when almost inevitably one or more Westside schools have been targeted for closure (but so far have averted that fate). This time around could be particularly interesting, because the committee's charge is to "study and assess... schools' performance [and] instructional program delivery," right along with their "fixed assets and resources." So, how do we say this tactfully? Most Westside schools have not exactly been leading the pack on test scores, nor are they filled to the gills with students, nor can it even be said that their fixed assets (see Bijou) are in the greatest shape. We have several magnet schools - the product of recommendations from a previous study (the Westside Task Force) that sought solutions to low enrollment, but will the committee give the Westside a pass just because Midland has International Baccalaureate, Buena Vista has Montessori, Whittier and West have gifted and talented, Washington has Core Knowledge and Bristol has arts? Curiously, the most noteworthy CSAP test scores of late have come from non-magnet schools (Pike, Howbert and Holmes).
As an alternative school, Bijou and its 135 students will at least wind up intact somewhere. We'll have to wait and see what this studying and configuring means for the other Westside schools.