MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School Board on Thursday unanimously approved a new schedule for Moses Lake High School this fall, reducing the number of periods to nine from 11 and the length of the school day to eight from 10 hours.
The schedule also reduces the number of tracks from three to two, the number of lunches from five to three, and more efficiently uses the high school’s 68 general purpose classrooms.
The proposal was made by MLHS Interim Principal Jake Long and Counselor Enrique Tarver, and reflects months of work to identify the amount of usable space on the MLHS campus and how best to use it.
“We’re going to have to get very creative with our space,” Long said.
The plan envisions that 2,374 students will attend MLHS next fall, and splits them into two tracks — one which starts classes at 7 a.m. and gets out at 2:15 p.m., and the second, which begins school at 7:55 a.m. and gets out at 3:10 p.m. Periods 2-4 (7:55 through 10:35 a.m.) will be the busiest, with over 2,000 students on campus and nearly 87 percent of those students in class.
Currently, the busiest periods are from 7:55-9:40, when roughly 1,800 students are on campus and 78 percent of them are in class.
To make the schedule work, Long said they identified 88 “teaching rooms,” of which six house fewer than 15 students (computer labs and special education classrooms, mostly), six are for physical education, two are for music, three are for shop, and one each for culinary, floral, and theater — not particularly useful for teaching other subjects.
Long said the committee worked out the new schedule to deal with a projected student population of over 2,700 beginning in the fall of 2022.
“This is good for five years,” Long said. “Something will have to happen at the end of that time.”
In February 2017, district voters approved by a three-vote margin a $135.4 million bond to build a second high school, an eleventh elementary school, do needed repairs to the current high school, and improve security district wide. However, a group of voters challenged Grant County Auditor Michelle Jaderlund’s handling of disputed ballots in that close election in court.
While Superior Court Judge John Antosz ruled in favor of Jaderlund last March, the group of voters appealed. The state’s Third District Court of Appeals, which heard arguments earlier this month, has promised a ruling on the disputed bond election by March 15.
Utilization rates — the number of students at district schools versus their capacity, based on a state formula — was the topic of a 90 minute study session the board held prior to the meeting.
“What is the ideal utilization rate for our schools?” Superintendent Josh Meek asked board members to consider. “We need you to come to an agreement on that.”
While MLHS is 100 percent utilized — students fill up every square foot built — utilization rates vary wildly at the district’s other schools, but averages around 80 to 83 percent for the district’s three middle and 10 elementary schools.
Meek said the purpose of going through and identifying the number of students and the amount of space the district has is to help properly assess future needs and develop a plan that will allow the district to develop a good, long-range plan.
“This allows us to build a plan for how bond proceeds and construction meet those needs over time,” Meek said.