While there are other factors, academic excellence is really at the core of the school district’s plan to look at the pros and cons of combining grades 3 to 5 and 6 to 8, Superintendent Kevin Case said this week.
Currently Cherry Brook accommodates grades K-3, Canton Intermediate grades 4 to 6 and Middle school 7 and 8.
Case said one key question is which way is better to implement the “Common core state standards," a Connecticut adopted national effort to standardize curriculum.
“The timing is right to see if these grade configurations are working with the standards,” Case said.
Case acknowledges that there certainly are other issues. One is grouping third and sixth graders with their older counterparts at a younger age. Case said he’s already heard concerns about the idea of putting sixth graders on a bus with high-school students. In addition, space at Cherry Brook continues to be an issue and while declining numbers in first grade allowed an extra extended day kindergarten session this year, it could once again be an issue if the state requires all–day kindergarten.
The issues are the reason for a comprehensive study of the issue and there are no preconceived notions, he said.
“Everyone’s mind is very open at this point.” Case said.
Over the next few months, a group of staff, along with parents from each school, selected with the help of Parent Teacher Organizations, is going to study the issue.
Case said the first step is to see if space and transportation issues would even accommodate a change. The committees will then look at the alternate configurations and study the positives and negatives, Case said.
The superintendent said he hopes to have a recommendation to the Board of Education by February or March.
The board would have to approve any major changes but if both or one alternative grouping is proposed, parents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions, he said. In addition, parents will be surveyed as part of the study.