JACKSON-MILTON SCHOOLS Proposal would move 5th-, 6th-grade pupils

The move could help increase the percentage of pupils that pass the state proficiency test, according to the superintendent.
NORTH JACKSON -- Parents here are being asked for their input on a proposal to move fifth- and sixth-graders to Jackson-Milton High School next year.
Under the proposal, pupils in grades five through eight would take classes in the front of the high school, which faces Mahoning Avenue. The back of the school would be reserved for high school students.
The high school houses pupils in grades seven through 12, while pupils in kindergarten through sixth grade take classes at the elementary school, which also is on Mahoning Avenue.
District Superintendent Buck Palmer said he's sending a letter home with some pupils today, seeking parents' comments about the proposal. He said the move would help give middle school pupils their own identity.
"The kids in the middle don't really have a place that's just theirs, where they can develop their own identity," Palmer said. He added that if the proposal is approved, a schedule would be designed to minimize the interaction between high school and middle school pupils in the building.
Palmer said the school board would have to approve the proposal by early March so the schedule could be created.
Bond issue: The move is expected to be one of several topics discussed at tonight's Jackson-Milton school board meeting, at 6 at the elementary school. During the meeting, the board is expected to approve a resolution placing a 10.2-mill, 27-year bond issue on the May ballot.
If it passes, the issue would allow the board to borrow $21.5 million to build a new school to house all pupils in the district. A separate area would be included for middle school pupils.
In addition, the board is expected to discuss Palmer's plan to improve the results of the district's state report card for last year. The report card shows that the district met only 14 of the 27 state standards for the percentage of pupils who should pass the state proficiency test.
Palmer said he feels the lack of a middle school for pupils in grades five through eight can be blamed for some of the low percentages. In his plan for improving the percentages, Palmer states that the school is needed to "encourage the development of a stable student identity among students and to increase student participation in school activities and programs."
The plan also calls for the district to take 13 steps to improve curriculum and instruction during the next 18 months. The steps include the purchase of new computers and science materials and the review and realignment of the high school science curriculum.

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