Cape Henlopen School District's facilities task force continued discussing its recommendation on the district's elementary schools at a Jan. 30 meeting.
Early in January, the task force released a draft proposal for three new elementary schools and renovations to a fourth school, each one to house 840 students. New construction was discussed for Shields, Rehoboth and H.O. Brittingham elementaries, while Milton Elementary would be renovated.
An option to build a fifth elementary school within the growth area west of Route 1 was suggested, as was reducing the number of students at each school.
"We would like to refine this with some of the new ideas that have been raised," said Superintendent Robert Fulton.
The task force discussed reducing the size of the proposed elementary schools to 700 students. Some members suggested even smaller schools.
"There's a lot of research behind the benefit of small schools," said H.O. Brittingham Principal Cristy Greaves.
According to school research, the optimum size for elementary schools is 400 to 600 students, Fulton said.
School board member Roni Posner said the group should consider the benefits of smaller schools; 400 to 600 students in an elementary school is considered optimum by industry standards.
The task force also discussed a location for a proposed school west of Route 1.
Task force member Christopher Weeks said the district has a very valuable parcel of land in Lewes that should be considered during discussions.
"You could certainly trade that," he said. "When you take the value of that land … it's worth 60 to 80 acres west of Route 1."
Director of Administrative Services Brian Bassett said he would pursue information on land-swap transactions permitted by the Department of Education. He said he also would ask the state planning office for help to find a potential site for a new elementary school.
The task force intends to meets one more time to complete its proposal. The group will then present a recommendation to the school board for approval. Fulton said the task force plans to present a recommendation at the Feb. 28 school board meeting.
The next task force meeting is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the Lewes School library.