JACKSON-MILTON SCHOOLS Board discusses moving grades

The board agreed to place a $10.2 million, 27-year bond issue on the May ballot.
NORTH JACKSON -- It's uncertain whether Anna Keck's fourth-grade daughter, Caitlin, will spend next year at the elementary school or the high school.
Caitlin will be at Jackson-Milton High School if a proposal to move fifth- and sixth-grade pupils from one school to the other is approved.
"A middle-school atmosphere is desperately needed in this community," Keck said.
Keck added that she thinks the elementary school's classrooms -- in several of which up to three pupils have to sit around a table -- are too small and lack adequate storage space. Having limited room to escape in case of a fire makes them unsafe, she said.
However, Keck also expressed concern about where funding would come from if new teachers and a new band program are needed. She also worries about her daughter's being exposed to a high school setting too soon, she said.
The plan: The proposal, which would house fifth- through eighth-grade pupils in the front of the building and high school students in the back, was one of several items discussed at Tuesday's school board meeting.
A preliminary study showed 16 rooms would be available for those in grades five through eight, creating a middle school within the high school, according to a letter Superintendent Buck Palmer drafted to parents of fourth- and fifth-graders.
In addition, several parents expressed support for a resolution placing a $10.2 million, 27-year bond issue on the May ballot. The issue would allow the board to borrow $21.5 million to build a new school for all the district's pupils. The placement measure was approved unanimously by the five-member board.
Proficiency testing: Teachers and school officials also outlined several proposals for preparing elementary and high school pupils for state proficiency tests. Ideas included words that the pupil would define, use in a sentence and apply to a possible test question; after-school tutoring; and tips to get pupils used to the types of questions asked.
Several elementary and high school teachers also offered various incentives for fourth- and sixth-graders who pass at least two sections of the test. The district's report card showed it met 14 of the 27 state standards for the percentage of pupils who should pass the state proficiency test.

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