Moving 9th graders into CHS would create impacts across the district: Elementaries overcrowded, Carbon High has room, but the solution isn't as simple as it might appear
The issue of moving 9th grade students into Carbon High as freshmen from both Mont Harmon Junior High and Helper Junior High is a complicated one. It isn't just one decision but a number of them.
That's one of the issues the Carbon School Board discussed during their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday night, and there were a lot of thoughts expressed on the subject.
"Many people think we have already made a decision on this but that isn't true," said Board President Wayne Woodward. "We had stakeholder meetings (of both staff and parents) and have received input about it. The stakeholder meetings seemed to give overwhelming support on the idea. But some principals have heard just the opposite from members of the community and staff."
The problem of realignment is a complicated one and just doesn't involve 9th graders. It impacts the school district all the way through the system. As the board discussed the possible move, it became apparent decisions will be far reaching either way. Board members pointed out many concerns, often in the form of questions during the meeting.
If the board does decide to move freshmen to the high school, then do they leave the middle school as a 7th and 8th grade institution? Or do they move the 6th graders up from the elementary schools into the middle schools? And what would that look like? Would the middle school have one kind of schedule for those in 7th and 8th grade and another for those in 6th grade? Or would the 6th graders have a schedule which would keep them more with what they are presently doing in the elementary school?
And another problem is teaching positions. Would any teachers lose their jobs in this kind of a move? According to Secondary Supervisor Judy Mainord, generally teachers who teach at the high school and junior high levels have the credentials to teach at lower grades, but elementary teachers often do not have the credentials to teach at a higher grade beyond elementary school.
While there are a number of reasons why the idea of moving grades up is a positive one, the biggest impetus is because three of the elementary schools in the district are bulging at the seams. Castle Heights, Creekview and Sally Mauro schools all have more students than they should be handling. More portable classrooms and the possibility of having to put vice principals in some of the buildings are some of what is driving this idea of change.
During the stakeholder meetings the idea of the move was at the top of the list for many.
Consequently the board is planning a series of meetings at schools over the next couple of weeks that will allow parents and patrons to attend and voice their concerns and ideas. Those will be spread across the district with various administrators and board members at each gathering.
Board members at the meeting on Wednesday night, however, were looking for a consensus on what should be discussed at the school meetings.
"I see three reasons we should be looking at this," said Board Member Kristen Taylor. "First is the bulging schools we have at the elementary level. Next is the core curriculum which actually favors divisions we have have been talking about (Kindergarten-5th grade, middle school 6th through 8th grades and high school 9th through 12th grades). Then there is the high school with only 580 students attending it."
The discussion also turned to the possibility of teachers losing their jobs through the change, but the board agreed that any changes in teaching numbers at any one level could be worked out through attrition.
Board Member Lee McCourt also pointed out that the meetings could have another discussion point as well.
"We may also have to consider building a new school," she said. "Would they support that?"
"The situation is such that with the depth and the consequences of such moves we will want to make a decision based on what we hear from people at the meetings," stated Woodward, winding up that part of the discussion.
He then reiterated that no decision has been made by the board and that the meetings will be helpful in moving in the right direction.
The board agreed, that if the move is to be made for the next school year, the decision has to come soon.
The meetings to discuss the issue will take place according to the following schedule.
Nov. 20-Wellington Elementary-6 p.m.
Nov. 20-Castle Heights-6:30 p.m.
Nov. 20-Sally Mauro-6 p.m.
Nov. 26-Bruin Point-6 p.m.
Dec. 4-Mont Harmon-5 p.m.
The meetings for Helper Junior High and Carbon High were held on Monday night. Parents from any of the schools can go to another meeting and still have input and ask questions.