My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Amherst Regional School Committee members raise concerns about moving sixth grade from elementary to middle school

Springfield Republican
Wednesday August 19, 2009

While some School Committee members have concerns about moving sixth grade to the middle school, Amherst Regional School Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez told the committee that this proposed move is just part of a larger plan. Rodriguez talked about his proposal to move the sixth-graders from the elementary schools at the Amherst Regional School Committee meeting Tuesday night. He had presented his proposal in an 11-page position paper earlier this summer. Moving the sixth grade would create a continuum "designed to increase student enrollment in honors or advanced placement courses in high school by building student and teacher capacity," he wrote. "This cannot be done effectively if sixth grade, as well as its students, are spread throughout several elementary schools."

"The moving of the sixth grade is the beginning of a longer conversation that is going to take place," he said Tuesday night. That conversation is part of a move to regionalize the district from kindergarten to the 12th grade. Currently, the district, comprised of Pelham, Leverett, Shutesbury and Amherst, becomes regional in the seventh grade. Rodriguez said he knows that people in the communities "like to be able to talk things through," He said he doesn't mean to be disrespectful of that. "We need to start somewhere. I don't want the community to be fixated on this part (of the proposal.)" The proposal is one part of the "transformation to make the system the best in the country," he said.

School Committee member of Kristen Luschen said "as a person from Shutesbury it is a big issue for my community."

Rodriguez said he knows that there are particular concerns from people in the towns. He plans to meet with school committees to talk about it. But, he said, "We need to evolve as a school system."

School board member Andrew M. Churchill said he was "impressed by the speed in which it (the report) was produced." He said he went to a middle school that started in the sixth grade so the proposal seems normal for him. He also said with the middle school being just two years, students are just settling in when it's time to move to the high school. "I'm interested to hear more."


Anonymous said...

What's the plan for improving the middle school so our 7th and 8th graders can be given a rigorous education? Without an improvement plan, there will be little support for moving the 6th grade.

Anonymous said...

A plan alone won't do it. How about some demonstrated results?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 1:35 - I think this is the key point ... and I'm waiting to hear the plan. I certainly can't support moving the 6th grade to the MS until I've heard such details, and I'm going to keep pushing for precisely such a plan.

Anonymous 2:14 - indeed -- demonstrated results will be very important. But the first step is likely a plan, so that we can at least see what the intention is?