A vote during this month’s McDowell Board of Education meeting has the ball rolling on an addition that will move ninth-graders to the high school and convert both junior highs to middle schools.
Superintendent Ira Trollinger presented the board with an update to the feasibility study which included information from all eight input sessions held during February about the proposed moves.
During his presentation, Trollinger stated that he was very appreciative of the parents who showed up to the input sessions and voiced their opinions either for or against the proposed move.
Parents at each meeting were given surveys to fill out and return so that committee members could study the results.
From the surveys handed out, 151 were returned and examined for the feasibility study.
Parents were most concerned about whether or not sixth-graders were mentally prepared for the move.
“The concerns for sixth grade centers around whether they are ready to move to a larger school and also the transportation of the youngsters in the sixth grade on the same bus as an 11th- or 12th-grader,” Trollinger stated. “Some had some major concerns about their child riding a bus with older kids.”
The main concerns for those whose children would be affected by the ninth-grade move were about the size of the high school.
“The main concern for the movement of ninth grade was is bigger really better? Does a bigger school make things more challenging, and how many students can an area absorb?” said Trollinger, noting that parents worried about transportation and traffic flow at the high school.
During his presentation, the superintendent added that, of the 151 parents, more than 100 were in favor of the proposed changes.
After going over additional data, he suggested that three committees be formed to help with the move and classroom transitions.
The first committee will be a personnel committee that will oversee the movement of teachers to the new schools, how many would move and that all educators were properly certified to teach at those schools.
The second committee will be the transportation committee, which with help from outside agencies, will help route traffic around the new schools, especially West McDowell and the high school.
Trollinger stated that both committees might have to create a staggered-type schedule for parents coming and going around the school.
The third and final committee that he proposed will be a curriculum committee that will ensure the curriculum at all three schools meet the standards for middle school and high school.
“The curriculum committee would decide whether we are moving away from the junior high situation to a true middle school setting with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders,” Trollinger stated.
At the end of his presentation, board members voted to take all necessary steps toward the ninth-grade addition at the high school and to correct any inadequacies at both junior highs to prepare for the movement of sixth-graders.
Other items discussed during this month’s meeting included: