Decatur Schools Enrollment Up Again Over 10%, Westchester Attendence Zone Should Soon Be Created

From a letter from Superintendent Phyllis Edwards posted on CSD’s website

Each year, we have experienced change and challenge.  Most recently, in the last 7 years or so, the enrollment has continued to grow taking us from approximately 2300 students when I arrived to over 4000 today. Currently, our projections vs. our actual enrollment indicate that we have met 97% of our expected growth for the upcoming school year.  I have no doubt that we will meet or exceed the projection.  If you would like to see the various enrollment reports done over the last year, please go to this link.  In response to the climbing enrollment, Oakhurst Elementary has been expanded.  Oakhurst will be completed to house students by the first day of school.  The 4/5 Academy is also under construction to add additional classrooms and a multi-purpose area that can be used for an additional cafeteria space if needed.
This year, I will also work during the first part of the year to create an attendance zone for students to attend Westchester Elementary in the 2014-2015 school year.  If the Board agrees, I will also seek a Principal to be named to lead the school.  This process will include School Leadership Team members and some staff from some of the existing K-3 schools.  A solid practice and one that I have employed in the past, includes naming the Principal during the spring so that he or she may select staff and get to know parents.  In order to ensure that existing students, especially going into third grade for the 2014-2015 school year, remain at their current school, I plan to open Westchester for Kindergarten and First graders first.   The staff and I will involve SLT members and other parents who are interested in the various processes necessary.
Last year, CSD reported that enrollment was up 10% to 3,584, which makes the “over 4,000” this year that Dr. Edwards notes above at least a 11.6% increase over last year.  I believe this is the third or fourth straight year with double-digit enrollment growth.
h/t: Patch

66 thoughts on “Decatur Schools Enrollment Up Again Over 10%, Westchester Attendence Zone Should Soon Be Created”

  1. This is obvious, but the Westchester location is awful for a school. Can’t they keep using that for another purpose than a school?

    1. Really Nathan? There are 125 households that can walk to the Westchester campus on a nature trail without crossing any major intersection. There is a 7 acres green space that connects to a 1/4 mile outdoor classroom.

      Quantify awful.

      1. I was told by someone, who I thought was a reliable source (apparently not!), that there are far fewer houses in that area of the would-be district and that there are relatively few elementary school children in that area. If that’s not the case, then I am sorry for the error. Calm down, Spaceman.

        1. Right after Westchester closed, it was dead for awhile in terms of young families moving in. But now that many are priced out of the Oakhurst and other areas of Decatur, it’s booming again. I imagine it’s destined to become the newest area for ubiquitous house renovations. A major difference is that the original architecture tends more towards 50s/60s/70s brick than older cottage/craftsman style. So instead of McMansions, McCraftsmans, we’ll probably be seeing newer and bigger McBricks. 🙂

          1. I personally know a couple of families that lost their rental properties in the south part of Decatur and could find something to buy only up there.

            I predict the demographic will be tending more towards youngish families with children as the new homes in Oakhurst and Winnona Park get larger and pricier.

            1. Who knew Westchester would become the poor side of town? I guess that happens when your neighborhood school is closed.

      2. Though there are some traffic/safety issues that certainly need to be addressed in front of Westchester ES, I agree, Spaceman, that the back of the property is fantastic. The nature trail that threads through the neighborhood and provides safe access for students on foot will be wonderful when the school reopens. Additionally, installation of a sidewalk on part of Westchester Dr. began this week. Hopefully, it’ll better facilitate safe routes to school.

        I have two kids in my house who’ll be using the trail to walk to Westchester ES. Very excited about the reopening!

    2. I had two children attend Westchester, and we loved the school. Converting that into a school is a lot cheaper than building a whole new school somewhere else. I also like the 4-5, because it creates more of a sense of community, eliminates the divisive “have” and HAVE NOT schools, thereby preventing tensions in the middle school years, which were a MUCH bigger problem before we went to 4-5 academy.

      1. “the divisive “have” and HAVE NOT schools”

        I think this is less true every day. Every part of Decatur is quickly becoming the former, if it isn’t already.

        1. I disagree. But to the extent you may be right, I think it’s a shame. IMO the most meaningful kind of diversity a community can cultivate these days is socio-economic. If and when Decatur becomes completely homogeneous in that respect, it will have lost some things it can probably never recapture.

          1. So, you think socio-economic diversity is still concentrated in certain geographic areas as it was 10 years ago? Last I checked, there were far more $700k+ houses popping up in Oakhurst as the north side of town. The schools themselves are increasingly on even footing, notwithstanding the economic diversity within each.

            1. I think she may be talking about Oakhurst. There is greater economic diversity among the older residents; the younger people are by and large comfortably well off. My kids go to school on that end of town, and most (though not all) of the kids are from fairly affluent families.

          2. “If and when Decatur becomes completely homogeneous in that respect, it will have lost some things it can probably never recapture.”

            Can you provide some examples of what you mean? Just curious.

            1. I think she must mean that economic inequality is a good thing. Finally, STG and I agree on something!

              1. “Economic inequality” is a meaningless phrase IMO. I think equality of opportunity is what this country prides itself on but does not actually offer any more. In any case, to Walrus’s question: I believe proximity to people different from ourselves pushes each of us to be more aware of the wider world, more thoughtful about our place in it, and more alert to opportunities to live in ways that make positive contributions to the present and the future. I think you’d be hard-put to find a school-age kid in Decatur who’s deeply challenged by interacting with a kid of a different race or faith or who has (or doesn’t have) gay parent(s). Being pals with peers who have a lot less or a lot more than one’s own family, in terms of material life and even basic financial security, is a different kettle of fish. There are real challenges there, which go directly to our most fundamental questions about how to live, how to treat each other, how to measure success, how to function as a collective community that cherishes and protects individual freedoms… When everybody in town is a “have” it will be unlike the real world and quite a challenge for parents to find ways to provide some doses of the real world (for their kids and for themselves).
                This is grossly oversimplified statement of what is really a complicated and nuanced issue. But I’m pressed for time.

                1. “Economic inequality” is a meaningless phrase IMO.

                  Be careful with talk like that!

                  I think your response was thoughtful and I agree with most of it. I grew up in very diverse surroundings, both racially and socioeconomically, and I do believe it benefited me greatly.

                  1. Well I was just kidding around, of course, but talk of this sort of socio-economic diversity usually causes me to wonder, how does anyone purport to know the state of their neighbors’ finances? Many people with above-average incomes are loaded with debt and have no assets. Are they “haves” in any real sense if their debt-financed consumption is essentially a mirage? Conversely, some people with very modest lifestyles, who might appear to be “have nots” by outward appearances, save assiduously and are sitting on relatively large asset bases. (Just last week the WSJ ran a story on a NY couple who lived very modestly. Their neighbors were surprised to learn that they died owning shares of Berkshire-Hathaway worth hundreds of millions. An extreme example, sure, but it illustrates the general point.)

                    1. It may be harder to define the “have”s but we can define the “have nots”–that would be folks with mininum wage incomes or unemployed, no family wealth eventually coming their way, no assets, no likelihood of educational opportunities because of limits of prior education, disabilities, proximity to community colleges, time (e.g. because working several mininum wage jobs and/or child or senior care). Basically, folks without anything to hope for but survival and that’s not looking too sure.

  2. While I disagree with Nathan, his post made me wonder whether a 25mph speed limit will be in place during school dropoff and pickup times. I am trying to think of schools on 4 lane roads and am drawing a blank, so I am not sure if the rules are different.

    1. There’s a school zone on SR 124 in Dekalb County that drops from 45mph to 25mph when the signs are flashing. It’s a 4 lane divided highway. So there is precedent for doing this.

      1. There is a school zone on Hwy 124, DeKalb County, but children are not allowed to walk or ride their bikes.

    2. Hi,
      Just posting from a long hiatus, but you all may remember there WAS a flashing light strung over Scott Blvd that flashed during am and pm school hours in the heyday of Ms. Kuebler. There was a serious Decatur police presence as well on Scott.
      So glad to see Westchester reopen. It is not a great “front porch” location, but the back play area is AWESOME. You should check it out.
      P.S. Moved to the country, but still love to check up on you guys.

    3. Isn’t there already an existing 25mph school zone on Scott Blvd, left over from when Westchester was in use as a school?

      1. Dunno, but I will be sure to look for signs on my drive home. But, I believe that those schools zones only apply when school is in session, i.e. during summer the 25mph limit doesn’t apply. I am sure someone will let me know if I am wrong.

    4. Yes, there was a school zone with a 25 mph limit during drop off and pick up, and there will be again. It starts before the Clairemont intersection. There were also crossing guards at Clairemont and Coventry. Police were there all the time in the mornings. Parents lobbied the DOT successfully to lower the speed limit at all other times on Scott from 45 to 40 beginning at Suburban Plaza to increase safety for all. At least they go 50 now instead of 55. Had children there for many years right up until the school closed and there was never an incident on Scott involving students.

  3. Westchester worked fine in the past with loads of families walking there, even across Scott (at crosswalks!). And that was with crummy sidewalks which have been since improved. It was fantastic walking for those living in the Westchester/Chelsea Heights areas surrounding the school especially with the cute paths through Hidden Cove Park. The back lawn is connected by paths to at least 3 streets, maybe 4. Only two buses were necessary–for the families in the Adair/Drexel/Upland area and for Gateway homes. With the crowding we have now, I wonder if anyone will even have to be districted across Scott.

    Key to safe drop off/pick up is a firm but wonderful, warm, wise, flexible principal like Ms. Kuebler was. She was out there every morning greeting every bus, every car drop-off, knew every child’s name by the end of day one, and then out there again every afternoon. She didn’t have an inside suite, but a tiny office with a window that looked out on the driveway and entrance. No one messed around with the systems for proper drop-off/pick-up and parking! I’m not sure who worshipped and obeyed her more faithfully–the students or the parents!

    Agree that lower speed limit would be nice, if it’s possible. The flashing school light and a strong, every morning police presence worked well.

    Of course a lot of updating and reinstallation will be necessary for a school that’s been closed to students for 10 years. Many things were taken out (e.g. kitchen) or let deteriorate (e.g. playground). There’s a cost to closing and reopening schools to be considered in addition to the operational savings from consolidation. In the case of Fifth Avenue, the school was no longer usable and had to be completely replaced. But the cute marquee that the PTA installed right before Westchester was closed remains–“Westchester, A Community Learning for Life!”

  4. Now that Westchester is re-opening and the achievement gap between elementary schools is closing (closed?), is it time to re-visit the 4-5 concept? Would parents prefer a return to the K-5 model? Would a temporary PK-6 arrangement at Westchester, Glennwood, Clairmont, Winnona, College Heights, Oakhurst, and 5th Avenue take the pressure off Renfroe until it can be expanded?
    These are the questions that should be asked of the candidates for the school board. The Board made a bunch of radical decisions (closed 3 elementary schools and created 4-5 academy concept) 10 years ago based on the circumstances of the day. Those circumstances no longer exist – is it time to think outside the box (again)?

    1. +1 I personally feel we are rushing our kids to grow up fast with the 4/5 concept.
      I also have read about the difficulties of transitioning to a new school. Under the current model the kids transition 3 times vs. only twice in the traditional model.

    2. I’m with you Smith. My sisters and I attended a k-8 public school in SE GA, and that model was fantastic. Would love to see our school board members consider returning to the k-5 concept.

    3. I have always felt that 6th grade belongs in elementary school, not middle school, especially for boys. 6th grade boys are still struggling with tie vs. velcro athletic shoes. 8th grade boys have mustaches. 6th grade girls enter still liking American Girl and teddy bears; within a month, they want access to Kik. I vastly prefer the Junior High vs. the Middle School model. I’d even prefer a 4-6 Academy instead of a 4-5/Middle School model.

      Excellent idea to look at reconfiguring the elementary schools to take the pressure off of Renfroe space. BUT remember the students who happen to sit in the middle of the transition. I am so glad that the Superintendent understands now that 3rd graders shouldn’t have to go to a new elementary school for just one year. Incremental change that grandfathers in certain grades is student-friendly, however messy it is bureaucratically.

      1. When/where I was in school, 6th grade was still elementary. I am thankful for that. I can’t imagine having been in middle school with 8th grader while in 6th grade.

        1. As a kid I attended a 6th-8th middle school. I have to agree with those that would like to push 6th back to elementary school. My district’s breakouts were K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. An adjoining district had K-3, 4-6, 7-8, a separate building on the high school campus for 9, and then 10-12. I always thought that made a lot of sense.

      2. k-4, 5/6, 7/8
        Doesn’t change the number of transitions but holds it off and changes the emphasis.

        Of course I wouldn’t mind dropping a change either.

        I also think we need to consider what we lose in family involvement, the costs of coordination for families…. when we add all the complexity of multiple transitions.

    4. Agreed. One of the obstacles which was articulated to me in going back to the K-5 model was the fact that four out of five members of ther current school board put a lot of time, energy and, perhaps most importangly, political capital into the 4/5 model, and specifically FAVE. I know many people have strong feelings on both sides of the arguments and I am not articulating one plan over the other (at this point). But since that obtacle is being removed, and given the current enrollment spike, resulting expansion need and the busing problems created by the location of FAVE, I want to know that the K-5 model is at least on the table. If the candidates for school board aren’t open to re-evaluating the model and insist on 4/5, they will not be getting my vote.

      1. “If the candidates for school board aren’t open to re-evaluating the model and insist on 4/5, they will not be getting my vote.”


    5. I’d be intersted to know what percentage of those that oppose the 4/5 concept have children who have already been to 4/5 schools vs. those who have yet to attend. Me thinks there is some trepidation related to the unknown vs. reality.

      While living in the same house, our children have attended every Decatur school in the district, except Clairemont (and have been to many summer camps and talent shows there), so we have done both sides of the tracks for 4/5. As a child way back in the 70’s, I attended a separate intermediate (5/6) school between elementary and middle school, so I have some experience from both child and parent perspective. As a final note, I don’t agree with everything that the school board decides, and have voiced my complaints at many school board meetings over the years.

      But I think that the board got it right when they went to the 4/5 concept. The best thing about 4/5 is that it allows kids to feel a little grown up before the hormones arrive. Let’s them spread their wings a little in a supervised environment. And most of the kids get to see friends from sports, scouts, etc. who don’t live in their neighborhood. It also makes the transition to middle school a lot easier. Yes, it is a pain to add another school to get your kids to and from (we’ll be at three schools again this year), but it’s not really that bad in a city as small as Decatur.

      I still remember vividly the arguments against 4/5 when it was approved. How it would ruin the neighborhoods, how you wouldn’t be able to walk your kids to school anymore, how it would lead to the demise of the entire school system. Is that how it turned out?

      1. I’ve had kids at both Glennwood 4/5 and FAVE and thought the concept as implemented was okay, but not more than that. Certainly not a disaster. I was always open to the concept of a 4/5. But it’s promise was never fully realized. The kids don’t mix much beyond their own classroom and many of the innovations like pods, co-teaching, looping, changing classes, have fallen by the wayside. As the school as gotten larger, it’s gotten less innovative and flexible and less community-oriented. Losing the 4/5 concept is not in my top 3 priorities for change in CSD but it also wouldn’t bother me if it happened. Pulling 6th grade down into the elementary level–either K-5 or 4/5–would be a more important change, IMHO.

        1. I’ll agree that the implementation of 4/5 has much room for improvement, but I still think the concept is sound.

          The SLT should be a big part of the community involvement. I think their role will be expanded greatly with the change of board members.

        2. AHID, I agree with you on this: the 4/5 as envisioned and its potential, versus how it is currently in practice are very different. My daughter is a rising 5th grader. We have been happy with the bringing together of all the neighborhood schools at this age, there are great teachers at FAVE just like in all of Decatur, and the kids get opportunities to develop some sense of responsibility and maturity before hitting middle school. However, we were very disappointed in the missed opportunities as well–“many of the innovations like pods, co-teaching, looping, changing classes.”

          My disappointment was even greater because there seemed to be little coordination between the teachers of the same grade. What my daughter’s friends were learning in math in other classes was, at most points in the year, pretty different from what she was learning in her class. I thought the 3rd grade teachers at Oakhurst did such a fabulous job with coordinating, changing classes for math, and what I thought was preparing them for FAVE and beyond, only to be surprised and disappointed in the way 4th grade as a whole operated. I voiced this concern in the end of year survey, and I hope my voice was heard.

          I agree, there is not much point in getting the 4th and 5th graders together, other than having them in the same physical location and perhaps decreasing the “clique-ish” tendencies of tweens, if they are not going to implement some of the innovations this model is purported to have.

          +1 to the model Arriba proposes:
          K-4, 5/6, 7/8/9, 10/11/12
          That seems like it could solve a lot of problems.

          1. Our experience was that there was more cliquiness at the 4/5 than at the middle school. Maybe having the 4/5 moves the “jockeying for position” that you see when kids from different schools are thrown together down a couple of years. It still happens though and while Renfroe is better than the 4/5 as far as cliques go (probably because kids switch classes), they still exist.

            There is really no school configuration that will magically eliminate cliques and exclusiveness among preteens and young teens. Learning to treat others like you’d want to be treated happens at home and in the community… not as a result of a grade configuration.

            You know, I’m saying all these things even though a school configuration change will not effect our family at all. By the time something of this magnitude came about, my kids will be somewhere between 6th grade and….. college (ack!). It does seem like we need to at least look at grade configurations and utilizing the ALL the space we have for K-12 (sadly, including College Heights if necessary and possible) before we go spending bazillions on massive renovations at the 6-12 level.

            And … regarding all this maturity stuff at the 4/5 Academy. Leadership and maturity can be taught in a K-5 or K-6 model. When my oldest was in kindergarten and first grade when Winnona was still K-5, each kindergartner had a 5th grade book buddy who came to read with them every week. It was a great motivator for the kindergartners because they wanted to show their new reading skills to their older buddy, and it was great for teaching leadership to the 5th graders.

            My oldest (who is 16) saw her book buddy at Figo the other day, and the two ran up to each other and hugged. ….Two adult looking girls hugging because one read to the other when they were five and 10 over a decade ago. It made me a little weepy.

            The fifth graders also served as safety patrol and did a lot of fundraising for their big trip (similar to Tybee but much smaller scale and easier to manage since they weren’t trying to work with 300 or so kids). They also walked their younger sibs to school. All of these things encourage maturity much more, IMO, than having 700 or more of them herded together in a big building where most of the people there don’t know them and they really aren’t held accountable or expected to lead outside of their classroom.

            Again, a decade ago, the 4/5 was a great idea, and it served it’s purpose well. However, our school system is nothing like it was back then. Seems like K-6 should at least be evaluated (well evaluated) to see if it might be part of the answer to our 6-12 crowding. Maybe we could get away with a trailer or two at each K-5 or K-6 and then avoid renovating Renfroe all together. That would save a lot of money!

            1. Thanks Mr. Fixit. Interesting comment and I agree with some of your evaluations and suggestions. May I suggest that if you ever run for political office, your campaign slogan be “Mr. Fixit In Charge”. Using first letter only would be easy to remember and you would probably do a much better job than that guy in Detroit.

              1. Thanks. To be fair, carping about 5th Avenue is a first world problem. It’s a fantastic school, and I don’t mean to suggest that it really has to go. It doesn’t. It’s just that if we are looking at spending a ton of money and there is a way that we could configure that would save some of the money and would also have some benefits for the kids, then maybe it should at least be looked at. If it doesn’t help with 6-12 crowding and if, upon study, the cons of going K-6 outweigh the pros for the students… then it’s not a great idea. I just think it’s worth a serious look/see and perhaps an opportunity to let stakeholders weigh in on it.

                There are definitely challenges to converting back.

                If I ever run for school board, I will run under the moniker “Carlos Danger.” Just to keep it interesting. 😉

      2. So, how about K-4, 5/6, 7/8/9, 10/11/12? Wouldn’t that relieve some space pressure, and keep a pre-middle school concept alive.

        I had a daughter go through 4/5 at FAVE and really am not sold on the concept – at least as I experienced it (through my daughter.)
        Positively, it does foster relationships outside of the somewhat insular elementary school/neighborhood that otherwise wouldn’t happen, and before the hormones really kick in.
        Negatively, it bothers me there was not much community feel/outreach – which is tough for a school only for two-grades, at one end of the city, and mixing of neighborhoods takes a little time to gel.

        I feel 4th graders could benefit from one more year of true elementary atmosphere/learning.

        1. Putting 6th grade boys back in elementary school and keeping 9th grade boys another year in middle school appeals to me. For the girls, I think subtracting out 7th grade altogether would be best. It seems to be a low point in terms of social awkwardness, bullying, and drama. Maybe a year of homeschooling in isolation would do the trick. Then they could go back to being nice people in 8th grade.

          1. Re: daughters in 7th grade

            I have a few years until that happens. But you’re scaring me. Stop it.

        2. Ideas like this are interesting and definitely worth exploring as we deal with double digit enrollment increases. The devil is in the details, though – for example:

          1. This would push some of the elementary schools over the brink of capacity again. Maybe the community would rather have 2-3 trailers at each ES instead of 15 trailers or $40 million in expansions at Renfroe. But that’s a general sketch of the tradeoff we’re talking about.

          2. This doesn’t really address Renfroe’s imminent overcrowding. You could modify it to reduce Renfroe to 7-8 grades, and leave the high school at 9-12, which will eventually require expansion.

          3. Renfroe has the IB curriculum in place for 6-8 – changing the grades serviced at Renfroe means either eliminating it for 6th grade or expanding it to 5-6 at FAVE.

          4. We’ve got awesome principals in this town, but this would challenge them, especially the ES principals, as they absorb 25% more students and faculty each. But that’s going to happen somewhere I guess.

          All in all I like the idea, I’d modify it to reduce Renfroe to 7-8 only, but I think it would require a lot of scrutiny to see what other tradeoffs we’d be making.

          1. City Schools of Decatur is IB all the way down to 4th grade. The K-3s are Expeditionary Learning schools which would make a transition difficult. There is an IB program for K-3 though. I love ELOB, but have never really fully understood why CSD schools weren’t IB all the way through… or, as I would prefer, ELOB all the way through.

            1. I love EL and think one reason to bring at least 4th grade back into the elementary model is to continue our outstanding EL model. IB for the younger grades (including 4/5) hasn’t felt like a fit.

              1. But then we couldn’t hear the IB song anymore! That song has always struck me as Saturday Night Live material. It’s just a little over the top in earnestness. I-i-i-i-i Bee-ee-ee!

          2. If you eliminated the 4/5 academy, converted it to an elementary school and re-districted for 6 K-5 elementary schools, would that solve the capacity issues?

            1. There may be funding issues to be considered. Given the (still) small size of our system, I think the State formula for classroom funding is not in our favor.

              The State funding formula was a major reason the 4/5 was heavily favored by board members at the time of reorganization. Unless the Charter School designation brought a change to these funding rules, maximization of State funding should be a part of the discussion about the merits of 4/5.

              As I recall, when students are spread among several small (by State definition) schools, the State expects CSD to shift students when one school goes over classroom capacity and seats are available at that grade level in another school. This of course, isn’t workable for students and their families so CSD ends up responsible for 100% of teacher funding when there are population shifts in a single grade.

              In small systems like CSD, the way to maximize State funding for teacher positions is to have all students at each grade level together in one school. Then the state will contribute funds for a new teacher when we outgrow maximum class sizes in a given grade.

      3. I have had two kids go through the 4/5 Academy at Glenwood. I served on the SLT at Glenwood for two years. I have another child about to start at FAVE.

        Frankly, I thought it was a mess, even though I was initially for the concept when we first reconfigured. I see little or no evidence that it has helped with cliques and mixing between socioeconomic levels at the middle school. Well, maybe it helped at first when our elementary schools were very segregated, but it no longer helps because all of our elementary schools have about the same mix of kids. We no longer have elementary schools that are perceived as good or bad. They are all excellent.

        Cliques still exist based on where kids came from at the K-3 level. Two years in a huge school where you have little chance to really bond with new people is not going to break up cliques that were years in the making in a small school.

        The saving grace for us is that both of our kids looped with excellent teachers so that they got to really know a group of kids, and they had a teacher who really go to know them and the class dynamic. Fifth grade was fantastic for both kids as a result. Looping no longer happens. One other thing that helped with the oddness of the configuration was the Friday clubs. I hear that those are gone too. Also, in the last few years, the grades have nearly doubled in size. So, now it’s just this big place on the far south side of Decatur that happens to have great teachers.

        Things have changed A LOT since this idea was implemented. It was beneficial at the time, but currently has no purpose in my mind.

        1. Clubs, I mean “explorations”, are gone? That is a darn crying shame. It was one of the best parts of the 4/5 concept. Explorations were a nice transition to middle school clubs that require more initiative and time commitment to join. That’s a nail in the coffin in the 4/5 concept IMHO. It’s evolving from a 4/5 Academy to just a bunch of fourth grade and a fifth grade classrooms that happen to be located on Fifth Avenue. Makes sense to move those grades back to the elementary schools. Maybe that’s what Central Office is envisioning anyway and why no one is putting energy into the innovative aspects of a 4/5 model. But again, there’s kids sitting in the middle of what may be a transition period. They shouldn’t be missing out just because they happen to hit 4th grade now instead of 5 years ago or 5 years from now. They should either be getting the developmental experience of an elementary school or the developmental experience of a 4/5.

    6. EXCELLENT idea Smith! I love it! Having so many transitions PK, K-3, 4/5, 6-8, AND 9-12 is, quite frankly, absurd for such a small system. Those who want to stay with the current system can, but those who like being “outside the box” can choose to take the Westchester route.

    7. +1 to preK-6 for all schools including FAVE! Having 4 kids in 4 different schools this coming year and next (and some more) is quite difficult (3 new schools this year – so much transition). Having some more routine that can last for years would be a wonderful aid for any parents I believe.

      Especially us on the N of Westchester even. Would LOVE it if our younger ones could stay close past 3rd grade instead of trecking all the way down – they could truely walk/bike to school from here.

  5. I find it curious that in all these comments, no one has mentioned the referendum.

    It seems as though a lot of people want to go slow on the bond proposal, but I wonder what additional evidence we need that our middle and high schools need to be expanded.

    We can certainly postpone the referendum, and watch as interest rates creep up, but to me, it’s clear that some kind of construction is necessary. I hope that city officials will take note of the latest enrollment numbers.

    A visit to McKoy pool is usually enough for me to believe that this population boom will be sustained for a few more years, at least.

    1. Interesting point on referendum. I have not been following fully but one reason I have been concerned about some of the proposals is that there has been no consideration of how different year spans could impact the population issues. In particular I am concerned about a super huge 4/5. I have one kid about to head off to 4/5, and we’re eager to hear what other children are in her class since we know it’s hard for them to spend any time with other classes. In 3rd grade they are mixing all the time – recess, math groups, projects, field trips. Socially this means that who is in your 4th grade becomes your universe. Very tricky at that age.

  6. So there won’t be any additional Pre-K classrooms added? That’s a shame. I heard that the Pre-K wait list at College Heights is fairly long this year.

  7. k-4 and maybe 2 schools with 5-6, Renfroe just 7-8…
    Also, do the schools not do spoke bussing so kids can always walk? Ie kids that live near clairmont walk for elementary, and also walk to Clairmont to catch bus to go to FAVE. Eliminated a lot of routes, kept kids walking and made coordination a lot easier for parents of the district I grew up in.

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