Ryah Cooley

School board to weigh solutions to overcrowding

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Students in the Hermosa Beach City School District could eventually have a third school in the area to attend, depending on which option the school board chooses to alleviate overcrowding problems that the district’s two schools currently face.

Among the possibilities under consideration by district leaders is reopening the former North School campus and presenting voters with a school bond in order to fund either the modernization or rebuilding of its schools.

Gkkworks, the architectural company developing the district’s long range facilities master plan, presented options for reconfiguring HBCSD’s schools to the board last week. The firm obtained feedback from district employees and community members who took part in a questionnaire. Overcrowding, security and traffic were among the main concerns expressed by those who provided feedback, said Superintendent Patricia Escalante.

Of the 60 district employees who filled out the questionnaire, 20 percent said overcrowding was an issue at Hermosa Valley School and 14 percent said congestion in the hallways, lunch area and parking lot was a concern at Hermosa View School. About 25 percent said main entrances were a safety concern at both schools. Of the 130 parents, residents and local business owners who took part in the questionnaire, 35 percent said traffic around either of the schools impacted their daily life. However, 72 percent of community respondents said they would give up open access to the campuses in order to have secure schools.

According to district records, 1,430 students attended six schools in Hermosa Beach in 1950. Today, roughly the same number of students attend only two schools. At Hermosa Valley School, makeshift classrooms have been set up in a multipurpose room to accommodate students. Portable classrooms have also been used at both campuses. The district office, which is currently at Hermosa Valley School, could be moved off campus to create more space.

Escalante said overcrowding is her main concern.

“All districts are required to provide a learning environment for every kid in the community and that environment needs to accommodate the number of students we have,” Escalante said.

Currently 485 students in transitional kindergarten through second grade attend Hermosa View School, while 953 students in third through eighth grade attend Hermosa Valley School. In response to community feedback, gkkworks outlined three different options. Option A would involve the least amount of change and would shift third graders to Hermosa View School. In Option B, North School, which the district currently leases to a private preschool and the Redondo Beach Unified School District, would be used for transitional kindergarten through first grade, while Hermosa View School would be used for second through fourth grades and Hermosa Valley School would be used for fifth though eighth grades. In Option C, students in transitional kindergarten through fourth grade would attend either Hermosa View School or North School depending on where they lived while fifth grade though eighth grade would be at Hermosa Valley School.

Officials from gkkworks said that Option C would allow more students to walk to school and could potentially reduce traffic.

Chris Miller, 57, lived in Hermosa Beach for 43 years and attended North School when it was still open. Though she now lives in El Segundo, Miller attended a community outreach meeting at which gkkworks also presented on Tuesday in order to give her perspective as an alumni of the district. Miller said she thought Option C was a good choice.

“I walked to North School as a kindergartener,” Miller said. “I feel like sometimes we gloss over the past.”

Escalante said the board will vote in June whether or not to adopt the plan from Gkkworks as its new long range facilities master plan. At that time, the board could also choose to pursue one of the specific options outlined by the firm. The district would then go to the community for a bond; all three options would likely require such funding, either to modernize or rebuild.

The district has not gone to voters with a bond proposal since 2002, when funding was sought for a new gymnasium.

The superintendent said at this point in the planning process, the district doesn’t have an estimate for how much any of the options would cost, but that a school bond could appear on the November ballot.

Grade Configuration Options

Option A

“Fix what we have”

Hermosa Valley School: Fourth grade through eighth grade (840 students)

Hermosa View School: Transitional Kindergarten through third grade. (814 students)

 

Option B

“Rebalance”

Hermosa Valley School: Fifth grade through eighth grade (660 students)

Hermosa View School: Second grade through fourth grade (508 students)

North School: Transitional kindergarten through first grade (486 students)

 

Option C

“Model Community School”

Hermosa Valley School: Fifth grade through eighth grade (660 students)

Hermosa View School: Transitional kindergarten through fourth grade (497 students)

North School: Transitional kindergarten through fourth grade (497 students)

Source: gkkworks and the Hermosa Beach City School District

*Number of students at each school is based on enrollment projection of 1,654 students for 2023

Upcoming opportunities for community input on the long range facilities master plan

Hermosa Beach Special School Board Meeting

Wednesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers

Community Outreach Meeting

Wednesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Hermosa Valley School multipurpose room

Community Outreach Meeting

Saturday, May 3 at 10 a.m. at the Hermosa Valley School multipurpose room

 

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