The North Bend Eagle


NBE delighted with growing pains

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 8/15/12

When Caryn Ziettlow became principal at North Bend Elementary in 2005, there were 199 students at the school. This coming school year there are already 329 students enrolled at NBE including preschoolers, an increase of 65 percent.

These growing pains are not just being felt at the elementary school.

NBE classroomRows of desks are packed into a fourth grade classroom at NBE.

“The high school is starting to see growth,” North Bend Central superintendent Dan Endorf said. “The elementary school (students) will be here in a short time.”

An addition currently being constructed at the elementary school will be a short-term remedy for the space issues at NBE. This comes in a long line of recent additions. In 2003 the middle school wing was added with four additional classrooms to serve fifth and sixth graders. In 2009 the north addition was added, part of which will house the new preschool program.

This summer the former computer lab in the middle school area was made into a classroom with the addition of shelving and a sink. It will be the fourth grade classroom of Paula (Hines) Stormberg. A new classroom is being built in the open space north of the walkway to the middle school area. It will not be ready until November, when it will become the home of Bev Grueber’s fourth grade class. Until then, Grueber and students will stay in their old room. Once the construction is complete, reading teachers Susan Baumgarter and Melissa Cody will move into Grueber’s old class room. They are now teaching in storage closets.

With the computer lab now gone, students have computer lessons in their classrooms on laptop computers that are stored in carts that are, for now, stored in the hallways.

NBCPS Media Specialist Chris Gross-Rhode said this presents a new problem of monitoring students who watch their fingers while typing because they can’t use the standard keyboard covers, as they will block the screen.

“It is also more difficult for K-2 students to work with laptop keyboards and small screens,” Gross-Rhode said. “I know that there is speculation whether there will be computer labs in schools down the road. I think for the lower elementary students whose fine motor skills are not yet developed, using the laptops is not easy.”

NBE band room and libraryThe NBE band currently practices in the library, which must close while band class is in session.

This will be the third year the band has been meeting in the library, mostly because of scheduling problems that arise with sharing staff.

“The biggest issue is that no one can come into the library when the band is here,” Gross-Rhode said. “Then, having the instruments here, we always have to keep the kids off of them. The band students lose five to ten minutes every period setting up and taking down their instruments.”

While the immediate physical problems are being dealt with, there remains the problem of staff scheduling. Ziettlow said expanding programs, higher level classes, and serving the individual needs of the students require more space.

One program Ziettlow is excited about this year was made possible by moving the fourth grade classes to the middle school is the pooling of reading resources. The students have been tested and grouped so that they will be challenged at their own reading level. There are eight teachers and four trained paras who will work with the students as they spread around the school to read.

The 2012 kindergarten graduated 52 students last year, and it was realized that this class needed to be dealt with when they became first graders. There will be an additional first grade teacher who will work with one-third of the students on their core subjects in the morning. In the afternoon the students will have their other classes, art, music, social studies and science in two groups.

Changes are rapidly approaching high school as well as classes grow. There are 143 students in grades 7-9, and 110 in the sophomore through senior classes.

The original plan was to wait until November to assess the situation and discuss updates. But at the Aug. 13 school board meeting, the board voted to authorize Endorf to look for a consultant to evaluate the educational facilities at NBCPS.

“We’re going to have growing pains,” board member Jeff Bauer said, “but it isn’t something we can’t take care of. It’s tough but doable.”

All in all, the board, staff and faculty are happy with the growing pains and growth of the school.

“Once construction is complete and everyone is in place, that will alleviate the space concerns for now,” Ziettlow said. “It will be interesting to see what the future holds. I am thrilled with our growth. We’ve gained great families and great students. We’ve started to make progress toward solving our space issues.”

Neither Ziettlow nor Endorf are shutting the doors on NBCPS, though class size will be limited to 55 students per class.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of a culture that so many other people want to be a part of,” Endorf said. “In the two years I have been here, the board has undertaken a significant building project each year to help deal with rising enrollment, new academic programs and aging buildings. As soon as the latest project is complete, they are committed to a conversation about the next steps with facilities.”

<<Back to the front page