Board to vote Dec. 13 on grade reconfiguration

A proposal to move sixth-graders from Herkimer Elementary to the Jr./Sr. High School building beginning in 2018 is scheduled for a vote at the Dec. 13 Board of Education meeting.

If approved, the move would address needs within both buildings by distributing the number of students more evenly between the two facilities. In addition, administrators hope that allowing students to begin junior high a year earlier, and creating a more structured transition between elementary and junior high, could help support students’ academic success at the high school level.

A survey of close to 90 district residents (about half of whom were parents) indicated that many people have concerns about whether the junior-senior high school provides an age-appropriate environment for sixth-graders. While a number of measures are already in place to keep junior high and high school students separated during the school day, the district is exploring additional steps to support junior high students if the board approves the proposal.

Currently, seventh- and eighth-graders spend most of their days in the junior high hallway, where their classes, lockers and even restrooms are off-limits to high school students. While seventh- and eighth-graders do travel outside of this hallway for classes such as gym, they do not share these classes with high school students, and their lunch periods are separate as well.

Jr./Sr. High School Assistant Principal Zachary Abbe and Herkimer Elementary School Counselor Bridgett Manley are working to develop a transition plan for sixth-graders in the event that the board approves the proposal.

The board’s Dec. 13 meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Library Media Center at the high school.