Kingston middle school plan includes separating fifth-graders from older students (video)
KINGSTON, N.Y. — If school district leaders choose a reconfiguration plan for 2013-14 that involves moving fifth grade to J. Watson Bailey and M. Clifford Miller middle schools, the students in that grade would be segregated from grades 6-8 in the two buildings, Superintendent Paul Padalino says.
Padalino said such a plan would address concerns about the developmental propriety of moving fifth-graders in with older students and the fact that the Kingston middle schools practice a different educational philosophy than the elementary schools.
Under the proposed scenario, Padalino said, fifth-graders would start and end their school days at the same time as other middle school students and ride school buses with them.
Moving fifth-graders to the two middle schools, which currently are at about 63 capacity, according to Padalino, would allow the district to better utilize the buildings and give officials flexibility to close more elementary schools if necessary, he said. (One of the district’s 11 elementary school, Frank L. Meagher in Kingston, is closing at the end of the current school year.)
Bailey Middle School, which is in Kingston, was designed with a 1,200-student capacity when it was built; while Miller, in Lake Katrine, was designed to accommodate about 1,000 students, Padalino told the District-Wide Parents Council on Thursday. He said later that Bailey no has an enrollment of 747 students, while Miller has 672.
Padalino said he sees consolidation as a way to maximize services with the resources the district already has. Examples he cited included a social worker who visits four schools being able to visit two instead, which would allow the social worker to spend more time at each school, and the district’s five technology experts having to divide less time between buildings as well.
Padalino told the council that the redistricting task force has been looking at the plans from the perspective of what would work best educationally, but he said the grade 5-8 middle school approach is fiscally better than an alternative configuration under consideration, an elementary grade-clustering approach. Several other ideas also are under consideration, he said.
The superintendent told the Board of Education on Wednesday that he plans to meet with KSQ Architects today to discuss some “outside the box” ideas, like turning Edward R. Crosby Elementary School in Lake Katrine and the nearby Miller school into a new high school campus. He described that idea in particular as “way outside the box” but added that school officials are trying to examine every suggestion raised by the public.
Part of the conversation also will be about whether any infrastructure changes would be needed to adapt to housing fifth-graders in the middle schools, he said. Continued...
School district officials have created mock schedules for a grade 5-8 middle school and also are examining transportation and curriculum adaptations required for each proposal.
The Kingston Teachers Federation has put together a small group of educators to assist with research, Padalino said.
Padalino plans to present a reconfiguration plan to the school board at its June 6 meeting. Trustees agreed Wednesday to schedule another meeting for June 12 to discuss the plan and give the public a chance to provide feedback before any decisions are made.
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