Oak Creek Elementary won't outsource science classes


Superintendent Korach identifies space for science lab to be used by Oak Creek, Lake Grove

A number of students were transferred to Oak Creek Elementary School when Uplands Elementary School was closed at the end of last year and in an effort to maintain reasonable class size ratios, Oak Creek’s science lab was repurposed as a regular classroom.

Initially, it was proposed that Oak Creek students could bus out to the Bryant campus for their science education, but Superintendent Bill Korach has determined that the best space for Oak Creek students to study science can be found at Oak Creek itself.

At a school board meeting Sept. 5, Oak Creek PTA president Lisa Kolve spoke to the school board about the value of incorporating a science lab into Oak Creek.

“You’re missing an opportunity there to have something in place that the kids see every day,” Kolve said. “That has got to be better than putting it in a place where nobody is going to see it except when a bus can get them and take them there.”

Oak Creek mother Elizabeth Welsh agreed with Kolve, reminding the board that although an available space for a science lab at Oak Creek might be windowless, this would give students an authentic experience; most of the labs she had worked in as a longtime scientist had few windows to speak of.

Korach said the case made by these parents impressed him.”That put us back on the drawing board to find a place where we could make it work,” he said, “and we did.”

With the blessing of the school board, Korach identified a windowless classroom at Oak Creek adjacent to the school’s computer lab that had been used to store district occupational and physical therapy equipment.

“We have made arrangements to have occupational and physical therapy in a different space, more than one space even, and now we can convert that classroom, which would not be a good regular classroom because you really don’t want elementary students in a classroom all day long without windows,” Korach said. “This would put that science lab right next to the computer lab. It’s a huge plus to have access to computers readily, and so we think it’s a win-win all around.”

The question of where to house Oak Creek science classes has been on Korach’s mind for some time, but he said that making sure students were going to be appropriately distributed into each permanent classroom had necessarily taken priority over finding a space for a less frequently-used science lab.

“It isn’t that we weren’t going to solve the science problem,” he said, “it’s just that it came at a time when we were still working on other things ... we’ve had the busiest summer that I’ve had in my now 26 years of summers as a superintendent.”

Korach gave the order for renovation to the classroom so it be sufficiently ventilated, have access to water and be equipped to drain that water into school’s sewer system. The facility should be ready for use in October, not just by Oak Creek students but also by students bused in from Lake Grove.