I write as a parent of two children of Hays USD 489, one of whom has gone all the way through and graduated and another still in elementary school. I also teach in the district and want to explain the reasons that going from three-section to four-section elementary schools is highly beneficial to our children and our community.

First, we reduce operational costs by reducing the number and age of buildings. We realize savings through systems that work more efficiently and need less maintenance as well as the need for fewer custodial staff to maintain fewer facilities. These savings can then go into continuing regular maintenance costs and other projects needed by the district.

Another consideration is the increase in instructional time due to each school having their own specials and support staff (counselors, psychologists, speech) so scheduling will provide students with more consistency to optimize learning time. These support staff will provide more actual student contact time since they will not be using time to travel between buildings. Time will also not be lost in attempting to schedule P.E. classes due to gyms being used to seat children for lunch.

The board has set a goal of reducing our number of students to meet research that shows the lower student-teacher ratios increase learning for children. Students will benefit from lower class sizes with more sections of each grade level overall across the district. We currently do not have the space for this type of expansion in our district, which hampers our ability to reduce class sizes. Since the increase is only one section per school, the overall size of the school remains small and has the family feel with the spaces engineered for overcrowding of hallways and common spaces reduced.

Amy D. Wasinger,