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Student Population Letter

Dear Misawa Parents and Community Members,

Over the past several years, there has been a significant shift in the student population of our elementary schools. Sollars Elementary School's student population has expanded to over 900 children, while Cummings Elementary School's student population has decreased to under 250. One reason for this shift was that more families have elected to live off-base. Students who live off-base attend Sollars, so as the off-base population has expanded, Sollars student population has increased. In addition, over 400 homes in North Area Housing were vacated in preparation for major renovations further increasing the number of families living off base and expanding Sollars' student population.

DoDEA staffing criteria for DoDDS schools is based on student enrollment. Based on a student enrollment of 220 students, Cummings is at risk of losing staff members and programs. The nurse and physical education positions are currently part-time because of the reduced student population and they have no Art teacher. Without expanding Cummings enrollment, critical programs like English as a Second Language (ESL), Reading Support Specialists, and full-time counselor positions may be lost and may result in reduced technology allocations, supply funding, and after-school programs. Because Sollars is considered a large school with a population of 500 or more, different staffing standards apply. Very limited additional specialty staff is provided for music, art, physical education, counseling, support personnel, or school nurse responsibilities. Therefore, Sollars has taken on this additional workload without added resources stretching their allocated resources to the limit.

Our DoDDS administrators and Wing Leadership have been concerned about these issues for some time. We have looked at ways to stabilize the population and enhance staffing and school resources to the mutual benefit of all students. The option that holds the greatest potential is to divide the off-base student population into two bus zones. Students in one zone would attend Cummings and those in the other would attend Sollars.

This proposal was presented at the 15 January 2010 Installation Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting. The IAC is comprised of wing leadership, school principals, and elected student, teacher, and parent representatives from the Edgren, Sollars, and Cummings School Advisory Committees. After considering the impact to all concerned, and with DoDEA's full support, the IAC endorsed the off-base busing proposal.

Effective this fall (school year 2010-11), students from families living south of the new city hospital/Jam Friend Club Pachinko and East of Maruhan Pachinko will attend Cummings Elementary. To simplify, students who rode buses 24, 25, and 26 this year will attend Cummings. Students from families living north of the new city hospital and west of Jam Friend will attend Sollars. High school students living in both areas will continue to be bused to Edgren with their own designated bus(es). A map and "Questions and Answers" page are attached with additional details.

Sollars and Cummings are both outstanding schools. We know our families will find great educational programs, outstanding teachers, and long-lasting friendships at either school.

Please call the schools if you have question or concerns. Concerns, as deemed appropriate, will be submitted through the School Advisory Committee of each school to the Installation Advisory Committee for wing leadership awareness.

Thank you for working with us in this endeavor.