One day after board members voted to modify the makeup of every Lawrence school starting in 2011-2012, administrators said they still have plenty of work to do to implement the change.
“There are some adjustments. We will not have business as usual. It’s not going to look like a mini junior high school,” Southwest Junior High Principal Trish Bransky said Tuesday.
Bransky and other administrators and teachers will be seeking input in the next year from students and parents as the district moves to four-year high schools and sixth- to eighth-grade middle schools.
High school and junior high administrators also praised the board’s Monday decision, saying it would give both ninth-graders and sixth-graders access to more courses and activities.
Currently, students in seventh through ninth grades attend junior high. And students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend elementary school.
“One of the big benefits of having ninth-graders here is having all this rich curriculum that we offer, and we want to make sure the students have an opportunity to experience our curriculum,” said Matt Brungardt, principal at Lawrence High School.
With more students, he said, the high schools would be able to offer more courses. Brungardt said the high schools also should see more interest in foreign language, visual and performing arts, physical education and career and technical education courses.
Due to budget cuts, district leaders opted not to offer ninth-grade German in the four junior high schools next year but they have said it would return in 2011.
“Getting students to a four-year high school is going to give us a comprehensive high school,” Brungardt said.
Board members also on Monday voted for next year to move athletics for ninth-grade students up to the high schools, meaning freshman will be able to participate at the high school level — on varsity teams if they are good enough — in all sports instead of just a few.
Bransky said teachers at Southwest Junior High on Tuesday were already generating ideas to help plan the change. She said middle schools administrators will be looking to create smooth transitions for students — opening the school to sixth-graders for visits and letting sixth-graders know what to expect.
She said in middle schools, sixth-grade students will also benefit from access to more activities, clubs and courses. In science classes, for example, they have more opportunities to work in a lab setting.
“I think by sixth grade, children are ready for a broader view of the world and more varied experiences that a middle-level program can provide,” Bransky said.