Glendale Middle School parents are concerned there won’t be the same number of class choices for students, that there won’t be enough gym space or the same opportunities to join sports teams if three northside schools become kindergarten to Grade 8 facilities.
Others wanted to know how Glendale compared to other schools in the Red Deer Public School District and what is being done to improve achievement at the school at a meeting that drew more than 40 parents, students, trustees and school administration to the school Wednesday night.
Kris Simpson, who has two daughters who could be affected, said if Glendale, Normandeau and G.H. Dawe schools turn into kindergarten to Grade 8 facilities it’s important that students still have access to the opportunities they have now.
Simpson is worried that the changes could mean her daughters could be less prepared for high school. She said in middle school students get used to moving from classroom to classroom and picking different classes.
But if there aren’t as many class options to choose in the new proposal and it is more of an elementary setting the transition into high school could be more difficult.
Red Deer Public School District Superintendent Don Falk said according to provincial achievement tests overall Glendale Middle School Grade 6 students have “very low achievement.”
Only 46 per cent of students in the 2002/2003 Grade 8 class completed high school within five years of beginning Grade 8. That compares with 72 per cent for students at other district middle schools.
“We’re not looking to point fingers or direct blame at teachers or at students or at parents. We’re just looking to examine the results…in an open and honest and frank way and present to you a proposal that perhaps can address those results in a positive way that has the potential to improve them,” Falk said.
Falk said the kindergarten to Grade 8 model could improve student achievement by eliminating one transition from elementary to middle school and create caring relationships among students, their teachers and their classmates that would last over more years.
He said the kindergarten to Grade 8 model would be well-suited to programs of choice and could enable the district to have a science and technology, sports or arts focused school. But he said at the moment it hasn’t been determined which or if any of the northside schools might have a program of choice.
The soonest the switch to kindergarten to Grade 8 could take place would be the fall of 2010, with a cost of around $350,000 for renovations at the three schools.
Terry Grills has had nine children attend Glendale Middle School in the past seven years, including her biological and foster children.
She said her only concern is how the school district will be able to offer options such as tech ed, band and food and fashion. She said the band program at Glendale Middle School is second to none and she said the band teacher Tim Bowman is instrumental in it.
“Are they going to be able to provide the same variety to all of these kids. If they can do that I’m all for it,” Grills said.
Other meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Aspen Heights Elementary School April 21 and Normandeau Elementary School May 14.