Top left: Rockvale Elementary Addition for 2022 / Top right: Rockvale Middle Addition 2022
Parents may be amazed at all of the activities that take place on Rockvale’s three school campuses.
Several projects are in motion as the school district prepares to add classrooms in the middle and elementary schools.
“I just want parents to know that we are working hard to give our students the space and opportunity to study,” said Tiffany Johnson, vice chair of the school committee. “We have great programs, but the growth in this area is growing so fast that we don’t have enough classrooms to keep up with it.”
Parents obviously noticed the movement of portable classrooms around campus.
The portable devices that were previously at Rockvale Elementary School were moved to Rockvale High School due to the rapid growth in student numbers. The grammar school now has more than 2,500 students.
In the middle school, the portable devices have been moved from one side of the building to the other to make way for the new classrooms, which will soon be under construction.
“The portable devices, nobody wants them, and we’re working to get rid of them,” said Johnson. “But with growth we can’t get rid of them fast enough.”
She emphasized, “I want families to know that these wearable devices are temporary.”
The school board has already approved building applications for the expansion of the elementary and middle schools, and the final funding approval for these projects will be guided through the process of the district commission.
At the middle school, the school district is adding 22 classrooms and expanding the cafeteria, said Trey Lee, assistant superintendent of engineering and construction at RCS.
The primary school receives a two-story extension with 25 new classrooms and expanded service lines for the cafeteria.
The portable classrooms that have been moved will also be painted soon to improve their looks, Lee said.
“We’ll start with the high school portables and then complete those in middle school.”
Crews worked over the summer to move and install the portable equipment, including connecting utilities and building access ramps. The portable devices will take additional time to set up as only one company bid on the project and several had to be postponed this year, Lee said.
“(Ideally) we’d like to get them all up and running before school starts,” Lee said earlier this week, “but I don’t know if there are enough trailer moving companies – if you try to do this number we’re doing this year – to meet us. “
To address some of the high school’s overcrowding, the school district is considering a rezoning option to bring Christiana students to Riverdale High School, principal Bill Spurlock said.
“We’re going to start with those who are currently eighth graders in Christiana Middle, but we have to be very careful with that (because) we’re sitting at 2,000 in Riverdale,” Spurlock said.
Finding space to move high school students around is a much bigger problem, Spurlock added, explaining that almost all RCS high schools have 2,000 or more students.
No reallocation plans have been finalized and the district will likely continue to discuss this in the fall – and keep parents informed.
Dr. Jimmy Sullivan, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, tracks the district’s current enrollment on a daily basis.
“They’re crowded everywhere,” Sullivan said of the high school counts. “We have grown tremendously (this year).”
The school district finished the last school year with 46,886 students, but more than 48,000 students are already enrolled for the new school year. The number of enrollments will continue to fluctuate over the next few weeks as schools remove duplicate enrollments and finalize new registrations.
The school board has also discussed the review and adjustment of its five-year building plan to create additional space for high school students. These plans will be revised soon.
Johnson said she was impressed with the educators at Rockvale and their approach to making the most of the portable classrooms.
“They have a really positive attitude about it, and I’m very proud of our teachers and administrators for taking responsibility and really making these portable houses for our students,” said Johnson. “Rockvale wearables are unsightly, and it’s unfortunate that we’ve grown so and had to add so many wearables to such a beautiful new high school, but I think that’s testament to what is happening in our community. “