Five months into a grade realignment, Lawrence middle school principals reported on their successes and challenges at Monday night’s Lawrence school board meeting.
This fall, the district’s four junior high schools shifted to middle schools as they added sixth-graders and moved ninth-graders to the district’s two high schools.
The transition resulted in new names, schedules and courses.
“It was a particular challenging year,” West Middle School Principal Myron Melton told the board. “Two-thirds of our students were new, and one-third of our staff was new.
Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer, said that in coming months, the board should expect to see tweaks to the middle schools.
For the first time this fall, the four middle schools adopted the same schedule, which mixed a standard eight-period day with those that followed a block schedule.
Halfway through the school year, staff are re-evaluating that setup, which they say has too many moving parts.
The middle schools might move to a more simplified schedule, Bodensteiner said.
And the schools may need a boost in the number of staff to better group students, she said. The goal is to create teams of teachers for the core classes of reading and language arts, science, social studies and math. Students would be assigned to each team.
More staff are needed to allow these teams to have common planning periods and the same group of students, Bodensteiner said.
“This is a big change. Lots of things are a work in progress. We are only a few months into this, so we are still learning,” she said.
In other business:
l Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll received a positive evaluation during an executive session before the board meeting.
During the board meeting, board President Mark Bradford reported that they were “extremely pleased” with Doll’s performance.
The evaluation didn’t come with a pay raise. Seven months ago, the board agreed to extend Doll’s contract through 2013 with an annual salary of $153,000.
l Board members said they wanted to see faculty prioritize a list of acceptable standards for elementary schools.
Among the items on the list are for every school to have a full-time principal and guidance counselor, school health services, library media specialists and full-day kindergarten.
The standards also state that class size should be reduced and based on enrollment, poverty levels, student performance and other demographics.