By DENISE DICK
Over a three-year period starting next year, some middle school students will change schools to equalize the population between the Glenwood and Center middle schools.
“It will only affect incoming fifth-graders” for the 2010-2011 school year, said Superintendent Frank Lazzeri.
The change affects people living south of Green Bay Drive to Carter Circle between Market Street and Hitchcock Road.
Those who attend Center Middle School will be moved to Glenwood Middle School, starting with next year’s fifth-graders, Lazzeri said.
There’s a disparity of about 56 children between the two schools with more attending Center.
“We’re trying to equalize the two middle schools,” the superintendent said.
It’s part of a plan to begin interdisciplinary teaming among middle-school students and teachers next school year.
A core group of teachers will teach the same group of students, planning strategy to help the students learn.
While no teachers will lose their jobs, the change will require some to change school buildings, the superintendent said.
The middle schools house fifth through eighth grades. Initially the district wanted the current fifth-graders to make the change next year. But officials changed the plan when some parents objected, not wanting their kids to change middle schools, Lazzeri said.
The change also involves schedule alterations that have some parents concerned about a loss of time for music.
Music for seventh- and eighth-graders will decrease from five days per week to three days per week.
Gail Demetruk is a member of Center’s PTA whose two daughters attend the school. She attended a recent school board meeting to voice concerns and try to gather more information.
“It’s not that I’m against team teaching or even the schedule changes,” she said. “It’s that I didn’t have enough information about intervention, or Spartan Success, to understand why it involves all of these cuts.”
She’s concerned about reductions in art, health and music classes at the two schools.
Now fifth- and sixth- graders have art and health each year. That will be reduced.
“Out of four years, they’ll have art only three,” Demetruk said.
Intervention, also called Spartan Success, will be a class period rather than something offered before or after school to children who need extra help.
Those needing more instruction will get it during that class period. Students who don’t need the help will be provided instruction offering additional challenges.
Demetruk questions whether a child who doesn’t need extra instruction may benefit more from using that class period for exposure to art, music or health.
The change will allow more time — 56 minutes per day — for each core subject area including math, social studies and science. Language arts, which now has two 42-minute periods per day, will decrease to one 56-minute period per day.
It keeps in line with the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the state report cards, the superintendent said.
The district has the shortest time period of all Mahoning County school districts for math, 42 minutes.
The school board approved the changes late last year.
“The board made the decision to provide academic teachers with more instructional time,” Lazzeri said.
About three years ago, the district began studying the possibility of realigning middle schools, considering various configurations of students among buildings.
“All of those proved too costly for one reason or another,” the superintendent said.
Those costs included transportation and facilities.
“Since I’ve been superintendent, I’ve felt strongly that we need to give more instructional time to mathematics,” he said.
That is one of the goals of the change. The district also wanted to provide intervention and enrichment time as part of the regular school schedule, to not harm the music program and not to put a big expense onto taxpayers, Lazzeri said.
“We don’t believe this will negatively affect the music program,” he said. “We will keep an eye on the program and if changes are needed, we can make them.”
Beginning next year, some Center Middle School children will attend Glenwood Middle School to equalize enrollment between the two schools. The current student numbers:
Fifth-graders: Center, 185; Glenwood, 132.
Sixth-graders: Center, 191; Glenwood, 141.
Seventh-graders: Center, 188; Glenwood, 181.
Eighth-graders: Center, 210; Glenwood, 155
Total students: Center, 774; Glenwood, 609.
Source: Boardman School District