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District's only middle school bursting at the seams, Lindbergh officials say


Lindbergh voters will weigh bond issue in Nov. 4 election



"There was a reason we waited so long because we didn't want to have to get into that kind of expense, but it was the last area standing and now it's gone. I guess every inch counts in the situation over here, but (it's) less than desirable."
— Pat Lanane, Lindbergh School District chief financial officer
October 15, 2008 - Sperreng Middle School is bursting at the seams, according to Lindbergh School District officials.

More than 1,300 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are jammed into the middle school that was designed to accommodate 800 pupils when it opened in 1970, according to Assistant Principal Paul Sharp II.

Every possible bit of space, including conference rooms, storerooms and custodial closets, have been converted into classrooms. District officials concede that some of those conversions provide less-than-ideal space, but they simply have run out of room to house pupils and teachers.

To provide immediate relief for the overcrowding at Sperreng, the Board of Education is leasing a modular building that should be ready for occupancy by Nov. 1.

Six trailers will be bolted together to form a single structure that will house six classrooms.

Furthermore, Lindbergh School District voters next month will consider a $31 million bond issue designed to provide a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng Middle School.

The Board of Education voted unanimously in August to place Proposition R 2008 on the Nov. 4 ballot.

A four-sevenths majority will be required to approve the measure, which would not increase Lindbergh's debt-service tax rate, but extend the current rate of 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation an additional five years, according to Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane.

While Sperreng would remain a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, funds from Proposition R would be used to convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, add onto Crestwood and Long elementary schools, convert Concord School to an elementary school and either construct or buy a new building to relocate the district's early childhood education, or ECE, program from Concord School. The estimated cost, including projects identified as critical by district officials and proposed security projects, totals nearly $31 million.

To show firsthand how crowded Sperreng is, Lindbergh officials conducted a tour of the middle school for members of the media Friday morning.

The first stop was what was formerly the guidance conference room, which currently is used for a reading-intervention program.

"Not an ideal setting, but it works,'' Sharp said.

Another stop was a former custodial closet that now houses a 10-foot-by-15-foot English Language Learners classroom.

Sharp said, "We would describe this as probably the least desirable room in the building.''

Also on the tour was a roughly 20-foot-by-20-foot classroom for developmental math pupils that was converted from a storage area at a cost of about $10,000.

"This was where all of our wood products were stored. Custodial stuff was in here. You can imagine just an unpainted room with shelves on the sides and in the middle, just full of leftover stuff, custodial needs and so what it looks like now is just incredible. This was just converted this last summer into a classroom ...,'' Sharp said.

Lanane said, "There was no heat in here. There no air conditioning in here. There was not a ceiling in here and there was not a real floor. And that's why it was the last space. It really is the very last space available that we know of in this building to convert and it was last because it was kind of expensive. It isn't like where some of them you already had all those things in place and throw an artificial ceiling in and you have school ... There was a reason we waited so long because we didn't want to have to get into that kind of expense, but it was the last area standing and now it's gone.

"I guess every inch counts in the situation over here, but (it's) less than desirable,'' he added.

While Sperreng traditionally has served as a polling place for elections, the county Board of Election Commissioners agreed with district officials that because of the overcrowding, the middle school did not have the space to do so on Nov. 4.

"This building was slated to be the Nov. 4 voting site, but because it's so overcrowded and because it's gridlocked at the pickup and drop-off times, no voter could possibly vote an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon,'' Superintendent Jim Simpson said.

"And then where do we put all the voting equipment and all that? So they moved it to the church next door. And that's a result of the overcrowding ...,'' he added.

District officials noted that the process leading up to placing Proposition R on the ballot was a long one, dating back to more than a year ago.

The Board of Education voted unanimously in October 2007 to establish a Demographic Task Force comprised of parents, residents and staff members to recommend long-term options to address space concerns at Sperreng, which currently has an enrollment of 1,306 pupils while the ideal size for a middle school serving grades six through eight is 600 to 800 pupils.

After weighing numerous proposals and conducting two public forums, the 53-member task force formulated six options, which school-board members later whittled down to three choices.

After further discussion, the board decided to solicit more community input through a telephone survey and with Proposition R, the Board of Education selected the option that was identified as the clear favorite in the telephone survey.

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