As a part of its 2020 Transition program, Sherman Independent School District is proposing closing one of its longest serving schools. As the district prepares for a major transition with the opening of the new high school, a new three-tier school system and new districting zones, Jefferson Elementary may be closing its doors.
The school, which first opened its doors in 1931, is among the district’s oldest campuses.
“There is a tremendous amount of history in Jefferson and it is a wonderful facility with beautiful heritage there,” Finance and Operations Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said. “It (the future) hasn’t really been discussed as our main focus right now is the students and staff at that facility. We are going to make sure we take care of students and staff first and determine what happens at the facility down the line.”
Ultimately, district officials attributed the decision to close the school to moves to increase efficiency across the district. With changes coming in the upcoming school year, the district will be shifting a focus to larger campuses.
The 2020 school year will see significant transitions as the new high school opens and the current high school campus converts into the district’s second middle school. These changes will also have impacts on the elementary level, which will absorb the fifth grade, effectively eliminating the need for an intermediate-school model.
Through these transitions, the district will convert Dillingham Intermediate School into an additional elementary school. The coming years will also see the district adopt full-day pre-k classes at Fred Douglas and the former Perrin Learning Center, creating an even greater need for resources across the district, Bennett said.
“We began to look at what our plans were over time as we take on additional campuses. We also noted a cost in additional manpower when you open up more campuses and the start-up costs and the need for additional staffing,” Bennett said.
While Jefferson once met the district’s needs, Bennett said current models call for larger campuses. As an example, Bennett said Sory and Neblett Elementary schools have a capacity close to 600. By comparison, Jefferson currently has about 230 students enrolled.
With Dillingham expected to transition into an elementary school, Bennett said it would absorb the majority of the students who were in the Jefferson attendance zone. This move is expected to save the district about $600,000 in operating costs for the campus.
Bennett said the district has not evaluated or decided a future use for the building stating that there are other priorities at the moment.
During a series of meetings about proposed changes to the attendance zones, Bennett was asked if the district would consider using the building to house some of the district’s special programs. Bennett said it had not specifically been considered, but it was too early to comment on the possibility.