Three north side schools will be kindergarten to Grade 8 facilities as soon as 2010.
Red Deer Public School District trustees voted unanimously to reconfigure the grades at G.H. Dawe Community School, Normandeau Elementary School and Glendale Middle School during Wednesday’s school board meeting.
The recommendation to reconfigure the grades came about as a way to improve “very low” achievement on provincial achievement tests by Glendale Middle School students in recent years.
District administration believes eliminating one transition from elementary school to middle school could improve achievement by creating caring relationships among students, their teachers and classmates that would last over more years.
“There are a lot of advantages that can be perceived from that, particularly in the kind of educational culture that it permits that fits our mandate to inspire learning and to nurture hope, and the fact that it eliminates one of the transitions that has been causing some problems with respect to the provincial achievement tests,” said Bill Stuebing, chair of the Red Deer Public School District Board.
“So that we hope and anticipate that this will lead to an improvement in the achievement levels in students in the north.”
The board has asked that an implementation committee be formed — made up of administration, faculty and parents at the schools — to create an implementation plan, with the plan to be presented by Superintendent Don Falk by the end of October 2009.
The board has also asked that a science and technology program of choice be looked at for Glendale Middle School, with implementation as early as the 2010/2011 school year.
Before that happens the board has asked the superintendent to develop a policy identifying the characteristics of focus programs, programs of choice and alternative programs in the district.
A plan for the implementation of the science and technology program is expected to be presented to the public school board by December 2009, which is when trustees would make their final decision about whether or not to move forward with the idea.
Since the proposals for the grade reconfiguration and programs of choice were put forward in March, four public meetings have taken place to gauge support and identify the public’s issues.
Stuebing said parents shared the board’s concern about achievement levels and have been supportive of the grade reconfiguration idea.
Phil Penner, principal at Glendale Middle School, said he is excited about the opportunity to do what is best for students, student achievement and school communities.