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Archive for Monday, April 26, 2010

Lawrence school board votes to move up 6th graders, 9th graders in 2011

The Lawrence school board approved reconfiguring the school setup in town on a 7-0 vote Monday night. The change will move sixth and ninth-graders to junior high and high school, respectively. The changes will go into effect during the 2011-2012 school year.

April 26, 2010, 9:58 p.m. Updated April 27, 2010, 12:56 a.m.

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The makeup of Lawrence’s schools will be different starting in 2011-2012.

School board members voted unanimously Monday night to move ninth-graders into the district’s two high schools and sixth-graders from elementary schools into middle schools with seventh- and eighth-graders.

“It has worked elsewhere. Fundamentally, it appears it will work extremely well here,” board member Mark Bradford said.

Board members followed the recommendation from administrators, who said it would give students access to more courses and activities at each level and help improve the district’s dropout rate. About 90 percent of 75 sixth-grade staff members who responded to a survey also supported the move to middle schools.

“The primary reason for me to support this is academic and what I see as the best way to provide our curriculum,” board member Mary Loveland said.

Even though they would still be in junior high schools next school year, ninth-graders will be able to participate in athletics at the high schools in the fall. That move saves the district an estimated $150,000.

The district will take one year to plan the changes, said chief academic officer Kim Bodensteiner, particularly because there are different models for how to set up middle schools. On Monday, board members urged community members to stay involved during planning stages in the next year.

Before voting, board members listened to concerns from nine parents and students who said the current setup was working.

“I am underwhelmed by the data supporting the relationship between configuration and academic achievement,” parent Michael Murray said.

Others said the change could magnify pressure to close elementary schools because it would reduce their enrollment.

Scott Morgan, the board’s president, said a community task force would already be studying the district’s elementaries, which could include options like making New York School into a magnet school.

Superintendent Rick Doll said board members initially asked administrators to investigate the change for its academic benefits and before this year’s budget crisis. “We think it is good for kids and that educationally it is the right thing to do,” he said. “We can work through the political repercussions, and we have plans in place.”

Comments

LadyJ 3 years, 11 months ago

I see Topeka is running an ad on the LJW website for a principle, ironic UDS 501 Principal

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kaylakula 3 years, 11 months ago

I have no objection to moving the 6th and 9th graders, but I do have concerns as to how it is being handled. The option for 9th graders to participate in all activities at the high school seems to me to be putting the horse before the cart. Why not allow that to happen once they are officially moved rather than this coming year when there are conflicting schedules and transportations issues? In the past, 9th graders were allowed to participate in sports not provided at the junior high level. Why is this changing ahead of the actual move?

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pomegranate 3 years, 11 months ago

I am from California, and way back in my day we attended a K-8, and then went to a 9-12 high school. In 7th and 8th grades we had home room in the mornings, and in the afternoons we changed classes.
We had no problem, that is just the way it was. You just go with the flow, and do what you need to do.
We had art, music, and drama, although probably not to the extent we have nowadays. My art teacher was named Mr. Lawrence. He made me sit in the corner with a "dunce" hat on one day because I was talking too much to a friend!!

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cletus26 3 years, 11 months ago

SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN TO ME; I AIN'T AGAINST IT.HOPEFULLY IT ALL WORKS OUT

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polkadottedzebra93 3 years, 11 months ago

bye bye fine arts as we know them. Hopefully once things are figured out they'll be better than ever...hopefully.

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John Hampton 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm curious, what was the German flag being held up during the meeting supposed to represent?

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somedude20 3 years, 11 months ago

Boy if you read some of the posts here you would think that a giant godzilla monster was days away from eating Lawrence. Grow up people it is not that big of a deal. Many many many many many many many schools all across America have 6-8/9-12 together. You know, many schools also start late Aug/ early Sept and end in mid June.

Oh no, I hear the godzilla monster coming....run for your lives!!!!

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windchimes 3 years, 11 months ago

When are they going to announce the full cost of the athletic fields?

The Superintendents office recently has a total of $16.9 million for the projects and $2.5 million for interest charges.

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StirrrThePot 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, this will affect the city's Catholic school students too. Currently Corpus Christie and St. John's are Preschool-6th grade. There was a survey which went out to SJ parents inquiring about the school either expanding to 8th grade or giving 6th grade the ax. The former won out among those who took the survey so there are plans in the works for St. John to re-structure to include 7th and 8th grades. Looks like those plans will come to fruition sooner than later.

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Phog67 3 years, 11 months ago

We moved from Lawrence to KC and my daughter is now a 6th grader in middle school.
* The 6th graders are basically separate from the other grades. * The teachers made sure the 6th graders could get to classes ok and could figure out the lockers and class schedules. * She loves it and is glad she didn't have to stay in grade school for 6th grade. * She claims the food is better.

Everyones kids will be fine and safe and there is really no need to worry and stress.

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Jake1552 3 years, 11 months ago

ruling the school was so much fun why do we have to change things???

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ohseriously 3 years, 11 months ago

In 1983, my hometown in Kansas made this change. TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO. We did just fine, got an education and grew up anyway. The earth never once missed a beat in the spin. I recall the biggest complaint we had as the transition class to four year high school was that we missed the chance to "rule the school" as Freshmen in Junior High.

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Jake1552 3 years, 11 months ago

i was soooo scared to go to highschool as a freshman thats why i came to lawrence from california. i hope my kids arent scared ))))=

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sportsmom2724 3 years, 11 months ago

I attended a 4 year high school which is the norm where I grew up. I am happy with this news! With a child involved in sports at the highschool as a freshman, it is my responsibity to provide transport to and from our Jr. High. Big Pain! I am unsure about the 6th graders moving, but I agree with Head Doctor that children are highly adaptive and transition well despite their parents. I had two children go from private to public school for 7th grade and the trasnsition was much easier than I had thought it would be. Give your kids credit. They may surprise you!

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nanimwe 3 years, 11 months ago

This is likely the first step towards filling up the high schools so that the board can come back and tell us that they need to build another high school...

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abacaxi 3 years, 11 months ago

What makes me really REALLY mad, is that parents and students were not given a chance to comment on this. The early April meetings at Free States and LHS were not widely advertised. My child is in 8th grade at South. Only a small portion of us received word of the meeting by means of a phone call. We took a quick poll the other night. Out of 21 sets of parents only 2 of us received the call. And then they complained that no one turned out for those meetings. And because no one came, we must all consent. I don't know any parent whose child is in Junior High rIght now who wants this change. It was a done deal.

Furthermore, the Middle School model is considered to be outmoded and is being abandoned for new models like K-3 only schools, 3-9th grade only schools, etc. Why are we taking a step back?

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LadyJ 3 years, 11 months ago

They should try an experiment and leave one or two elementary schools with 6th grades and allow parents to transfer into or out of (into one of the 6th grades in a junior high) then see what happens If there is not enough interest in the 6th grades in the elementary school level, drop them. If they have to turn away students, one or two more schools could be added. Just a thought.

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3crookedhearts 3 years, 11 months ago

Hilary: The configuration I suggested will help your fine arts programs, not necessarily the one board proposes.

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Clickker 3 years, 11 months ago

I will ask again....and it may be a question for the moderators or the writer of the article as it seems unclear: "ninth-graders will be able to participate in athletics at the high schools in the fall. That move saves the district an estimated $150,000."

The way this reads, "will be able to..." implies they have the choice. How does that save money by having a 9th grade volleyball team, with some girls moving up to the high school?

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forestl 3 years, 11 months ago

I AM a 9th grader and this is bad for many reasons 1. don't fix whats not broken, I have had great education but the worst classes i have had were ones where it was a large class and this will make almost all classes like this 2. I go to Central and Next year i will have a hard time because a lot of my friends will go to another school, and with 3 high schools it will just be worse. 3. lots of teachers will lose their jobs and/or have troble teaching which will make my education worse in my last few years. these are just a few of my angers at this but also the way they did this they got us all mad and tired then just pushed this throght which is the worst thing of all DONT DO THIS

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 11 months ago

The great Lawrence, KS educational experiment continues. More boundary changes to come and busing as well. Two ill conceived bond issues has put Lawrence where it is and an attempt to pass(it will win!) another bond issue will make three in a row. In this case, the third time will not be a charm.

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jubilee 3 years, 11 months ago

The fine arts program is a big issue. The school administration has repeatedly said "no problem" to the concerns about scheduling and sound proofing. I have asked. The school board has not asked how much any improvements will cost. They haven't asked what the impact on the teachers will be. Go to the junior high spring shows...then come back and say that those programs won't take a big hit...that those 9th grade students will have those same opportunities in a a 4 year high school. It just isn't possible. The response from the administration to that comment has been "Maybe we can replace it with 9 and 10 grade shows in the high school.:" Maybe. And what will that cost? Same with drama. Oh yeah, and what about Marching Band??? Do we have money in the budget for new marching uniforms for both of the high schools? Or will that actually NOT be an opportunity for 9th graders? Took years to get those new chorale uniforms at the junior high, has the budget situation improved?

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headdoctor 3 years, 11 months ago

Dazie (Aileen Dingus) says… Please stop adding non-issues to the issue.


Good luck with that request. I have been following these school threads for some time and there will always be non-issues brought up. They either are not looking at the big picture for the whole district or they are concerned their special snow flake wont get enough coddling of which the later is probably more of a problem to the district than any real school issues are.

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akt2 3 years, 11 months ago

At my daughter's middle school the sixth graders have their own halls. Their classrooms and lockers are located in these halls. They are not mingling with upper classes during the day except during school assemblies, and other school events and functions. There are teachers everywhere between classes, and before and after school. When they went in as sixth graders the teachers gave them special attention with "changing classes", which was a foreign concept and using their lockers. By week two the big change was all over with. It is really an extremely easy process for the kids.

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Aileen Dingus 3 years, 11 months ago

Hilary- What? No. There are plenty of boys who can sing bass in jr high, as well as plenty of girls that can sing tenor. I was in 4 years of SATB choir in grades 5-8 and while we didn't sing Die Zauberflöte or Cantate a voce sola e basso, we did quite well.

Please stop adding non-issues to the issue.

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hilary 3 years, 11 months ago

I think this will hurt fine arts programs. Currently, band, orchestra and choir rehearse separately during the day, so there's not a direct conflict for students. Also, the bleeding sound is a problem at both high schools, so reherasing simultaneously is a problem. Also, they will have to reconfigure the teachers' jobs. Currently, the band and orchestra teachers at the high schools move to the elementary schools during the day to teach beginning sections of instrumental music. The junior high teachers will now take that position on, since 6th graders will be at the "middle schools". What will the high school teachers do? The zero hour choirs at the junior highs will also take a hit. Without ninth grade boys, let's face it, you have no basses. Instead of SATB music, they will need to rehearse in gender choirs rather than the big combined choir in the morning, which is a big motivator for those young singers. It will definitely be tough to keep up the strong music programs in our city with this change, and hopefully, the board will be understanding, and help make it work, and not hurt our kids.

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3crookedhearts 3 years, 11 months ago

This is simply a setup to close neighborhood schools. Should seem painfully obvious to everyone. Mark my words, at least two or maybe even three of your neighborhood elementaries will close by 2012. That aside, having 6th graders with 8th graders is really not that big of a deal. This is the configuration in 90% of urban schools. If it's that big of a deal for some of you, might I suggest that you reconfigure two of the junior highs to be intermediate schools (5th and 6th grade) and the other two to be middle schools (7th and 8th grade). This would aid with transition not only through middle years, but also into high school. This kind of configuration has been shown to help test scores (not that Lawrence is struggling in that regard). It would also certainly cut down on coaching positions and strengthen your fine arts programs.

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mom_of_three 3 years, 11 months ago

My kids won't be affected by this change, but I wish they would have made it sooner. I would have loved for my kids to have more oppportunities then they were given in a 3 year high school and a freshmen in junior high.
And parents, the first class to go to the high school will also have a sophomore class with them who will be new to it also. I think that will help greatly. I was part of a first freshmen class to move to a 4 year high school and I don't recall anything negative about those days. I wasn't scarred. We had a sophomore class just as new as we were, and the juniors and seniors had to make adjustments also - more kids in the school. Freshmen still had basketball teams, football teams, etc., and access to more clubs, groups and opportunities they would not have had in junior high.

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headdoctor 3 years, 11 months ago

Of course the school board is not going to please everyone and there are always a few kids that are an exception but come on parents, have a little faith in your children. Children are much more intelligent and understand a lot more than you give them credit for. They are also very resilient and adaptable. The bulk of the kids will do fine if the adults will just shut up and stop fear mongering about this stuff. Kids already have to have to make adjustments in personal responsibility and organization to make the jump from elementary school to junior high and again from junior high to high school. Those type of adjustments are necessary and should be started sooner.

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Joel Hood 3 years, 11 months ago

My wife & I attended the the public meeting at FSHS last Tuesday. Members of the BOE & district admin pretended like this wasn't a done deal, but it was clear in the first 5 minutes that this was going to happen. Personally, I don't have a problem with the change, but the BOE, Doll, & other 497 admins were just giving lip service to the public - there was only a pretense of public input. My wife directly asked Scott Morgan how they were gathering public input, and he essentially brushed off her question. Something like, "people find ways to tell us what they think, email, calls, etc."

Here are a couple questions that were not answered then:
1. How will FSHS & especially LHS accomodate a student population increase of about 25%? LHS is already close to capacity. 2. Each elementary school will now decrease by roughly 15-17%. Won't this put even more pressure on the BOE to close the smaller schools, especially in E. Lawrence?

Lots of smiles and "we don't know yets" were given. But, I would not be shocked if we don't see Lawrence close an elemenary school and discuss a bond issue to pay for a new high school within the next 5-8 years. I'm not saying it won't be necessary, but it's coming next.

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areyousure 3 years, 11 months ago

It's not as if moving the 6th graders into a middle school is some revolutionary thing that hasn't been tried. Are Lawrence 6th graders more fragile and less socially developed than 6th graders who already attend a middle school?

I attended school in three different districts and two states while attending public schools. All had 4 year high schools and two of them had middle schools. Guess what - the students were fine. Those who had a middle school probably would think that changing to a junior high model would be strange.

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Aileen Dingus 3 years, 11 months ago

I started jr high in 5th grade actually, but it was arranged so that we had almost NO contact with the grades above. I don't even think we had lunch together, but it was back in the stone age, so I don't really remember. ;)

I think the kids will be fine. They're not going to be thrown to the lions (well, other than the Chesty Lions) they're going to school. They'll be ok.

As for the child who is terrified- part of me thinks maybe Mom & Dad are making a bigger deal about this and the child picked up on it. Maybe a "field trip" to the jr high is in order. Make an appointment to meet the administration, take a tour. Find out what opportunities your son will have, and show him, and yourselves, that jr high is just the next step, not something terrifying.

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youngjayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Great news! Just a shame it can't be implemented next year, but I guess all those administrators will need something to do = job justification!

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hilary 3 years, 11 months ago

The high schools MUST go to a different schedule to provide for the sudden influx of ninth graders. There are not enough slots during the day for the students to get all of their requirements plus a few electives in there. It's time for a 7 period day in this town, just like the other high schools in this state. The teachers may not like having another class to teach, but the kids need more options.
I really feel for the kids going to LHS. I went to LHS when there were upwards of 1800 students, and it was far too crowded. There's already not enough parking for the students, or even for the public to see a game, or go to a concert. How are they doing this without building improvements? Both high schools will need new biology labs, as well as a new music room to accommodate for the ninth graders. I can't imagine we will see these things in the coming year. The district will also need to redraw the boundary lines, as this sends 400 more students to LHS than to Free State. I know that people in this town would like to keep things as equal as possible. At least this will push Free State out of the 5A zone. Although we knew this move would be inevitable, there are many things to consider this year before catapulting the ninth graders into the high schools. I hope the district is able to have these important conversations within the coming year.

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Clickker 3 years, 11 months ago

"ninth-graders will be able to participate in athletics at the high schools in the fall. That move saves the district an estimated $150,000."

The way this reads, "will be able to..." implies they have the choice. How does that save money by having a 9th grade volleyball team, with some girls moving up to the high school?

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Curtis Lange 3 years, 11 months ago

Woah! You mean Lawrence schools are moving out of the dark ages?! O.O I had never heard of this 1-6, 7-9, 10-12 split until I moved here. It has, and should be, everywhere I've lived 1-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

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douglas6280 3 years, 11 months ago

Now Lawrence is just like everyone else.

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happy_go_lucky 3 years, 11 months ago

The purpose of school in the grand scheme of things is for developing their social abilities, ever more so in this new academic life(kids do not learn, they search and find the knowledge). Holding onto your kids does not make them grow, having children in 6th grade still in elementary holds their growth back.

You can not develope without a reason to. There is a reason the people who actually deal with students and developing this kids wanted this years ago. The people actually trained and equiped to make the informed decision want it. I am sorry parents your fear does not mature your child, you stunt their growth.

Let go of your fear, this isn't Queens or Chicago, this is Lawrence, Kansas. If you are scared of your kids going to school, you need a reality check.

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parrothead8 3 years, 11 months ago

People may not think their children are ready to start junior high as 6th-graders, but you know what? Being a 6th grader in a school full of 5-11 year olds will not emotionally and socially prepare your child to be a 7th-grader mixed in with 8th and 9th-graders. That's like saying that the best way to get a horse ready for the Kentucky Derby is by racing him against chickens. There's no difference between being a 6th-grader in a 6-8 junior high and being a 7th-grader in a 7-9 junior high. It's tough either way. The best way to figure out how to be a junior high student is to be one.

At least by moving 9th-graders to the high school, it gives kids more opportunities to do things they're interested in at a younger age.

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Scattered 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm sorry your school board made this choice.

I live in a town with a 6-7-8 middle school, and the 6th graders do NOT like it, and most parents do not either. I work with a group of children this age, and they are often frightened and confused by the things they see and hear at their schools. There is a huge difference between 6th and 7th graders; and please do not tell me "they are so mature anyway." Why push them along???

Why can't our society let children be children?

(*and all day kindergarten (daycare substitute ) is a very poor idea, except for those who benefit from being away from their home situations) I have several teacher friends who will heartily agree based on their experiences.

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sourpuss 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, those of you who don't like this decision can move to a town that has a three-year high school. Oh, that's right. There aren't any.

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conservative 3 years, 11 months ago

This was a good decision. Gives more options to the students earlier. 6th graders are more than ready for the junior high atmosphere. Wish this move would have happened earlier so my son could have gone to junior high in 6th instead of 7th.

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cntrygrl 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm very saddened, and scared, by this decision. I completely agree with the 9th graders moving up, but the 6th graders have NO BUSINESS in Middle School. This means that my son now only has 1 year of Elementary School left. He is in NO WAY prepared for Middle School! He was terrified when this was just in the discussion phase.

Sometimes I wonder why the school board even bothers with public discussion. They don't ever take it into consideration. I guess it's time to start looking for a new school district.

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Christine Anderson 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, no. I have no qualms about 9th graders being part of high school; that's the way it was in my school district. We also stayed in grade school for 6th grade!! I don't see why Ks and several other states of stupidity can't leave 6th graders in grade school! 6th graders are not emotionally ready to be up against 7th and 8th graders. They are often smaller physically. I fear my youngest is more likely to be bullied as a 6th grader thrown in with the older kids.

If small, rural schools in Wi can make it work with four years of high school, leaving 6th graders where they belong, why can't Lawrence?

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fanaddict 3 years, 11 months ago

Yay! It was an extremely long meeting...but this is superb news :-)

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Multidisciplinary 3 years, 11 months ago

Pack up the house Ma, I'll hitch up the team to the wagon, time to leave this territory. First it was the fireworks..

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penguin 3 years, 11 months ago

9070811 it's funny you mention debate. When Olathe pushed their bond to pay for their move of grades it was one of the justifications for their move too.

Also if you ever participated in Policy Debate you would know that logic often does not apply...See LD debate for that sort of reasoning.

I just am unaware how this can be done within the existing budget. The last district to make this move, Olathe, had to pass a bond to undertake this project. It required additions to some of their existing high schools. I do have to say I am a bit surprised that it just seemed to happen. However, maybe they have the "math" that they are just not letting everyone else in on.

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Slackermom3 3 years, 11 months ago

Wait..they spent two hours on the decision to move 9th graders up to high school. How could that be? My daughter just spoke in front of the school board at 9:30 and breaking news was at 10:00. The decision was made long ago and the school board was just wasting our time.

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PennyBrite 3 years, 11 months ago

I know the school board meeting was shown on tv but I wasn't able to watch it. Does anyone know if it is shown again and when?

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runningscooter 3 years, 11 months ago

Sure wish they'd start all day kindergarten at all schools next year. That would cost though.

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kantubek 3 years, 11 months ago

What a stupid change. There's no need to fix things that aren't broken.

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Keith Richards 3 years, 11 months ago

Somehow the logic that we should close elementary schools and build a highschool, when it can be avoided by not transferring students, escapes me.

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9070811 3 years, 11 months ago

Also, moving sixth grade up means more room for elementary students during the closing of elementary schools. The high schools do actually have the ability to accommodate excess students. As they stretch over the next couple years, a new high school is already in the works. It will be needed and it should exist.

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9070811 3 years, 11 months ago

I wish I could have had this structure those some odd number years ago. I hated only 3 years in high school. Had to debate against Freshmen as a Sophomore during novice year. The following year we could debate open and as Juniors we would be debating Juniors who had 2 years on us (because they were novice as Freshmen). Blah. Small example but hey, it's worth sharing.

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Currahee 3 years, 11 months ago

Since when did government listen to the people?

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