Monday, February 24, 2003

6th grade focus in Finneytown

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

SPRINGFIELD TWP.- Having sixth-graders at Finneytown Middle School is not working out as well as educators had hoped when the switch was made more than nine years ago.

But before moving the students back to elementary schools, the Finneytown Board of Education wants to hear from parents and other community members.

  All community meetings begin at 7 p.m.
• March 3: Whitaker Elementary, 7400 Winton Road
• March 4: Cottonwood Elementary, 8513 Cottonwood Drive
• March 5: Brent Elementary School, 8791 Brent Drive
• March 10: Performing Arts Center at the middle/high school campus, 8916 Fontainebleau Terrace
Four meetings have been scheduled for early March to get community input.

"We think the sixth grade is not working (at the junior/senior campus). It's not what we'd like,'' said Superintendent Sam Martin. "It's not the same educational environment as it was nine or 10 years ago. Things have changed."

When the district created the middle school there were no proficiency tests at the fourth and sixth grades. Neither were there directives such as those found in the No Child Left Behind legislation, Martin said.

However, the catalyst to rethink the configuration has been increasing overcrowding at the middle school, said Gary Metzger, president of the school board.

For several months administrators have been looking at grade level configurations other than K-6 in elementary schools, should the board decide to move them from the junior/senior campus.

"The focus has to be on all the children, K-12. It can't just be on the sixth graders," said parent Elise Fessler, who heads the district's elementary PTA group.

Metzger said the board would schedule a special meeting on the topic after the community forums. He hopes the board makes its decision by the end of March to allow whatever changes to be made by the start of the 2003-04 school year.

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