Bryan ISD tables plan for intermediate schools
By BRETT NAUMAN
Eagle Staff Writer
Bryan school board members backed off a grade reconfiguration plan Thursday that would have established intermediate schools for fifth- and sixth-graders.
Trustees now want to keep fifth-graders in elementary school and sixth-graders in middle school. The district also will seek voter approval for a new elementary campus and a new middle school campus as part of a bond package that could top $100 million to make room for future growth, the board decided Thursday.
The proposed two-year “learning centers” for fifth- and sixth-graders had been part of a bond package expected to go before voters next year that includes plans for a second high school.
Although the $48 million high school was not discussed Thursday, board members said they now oppose creating the exclusively fifth- and sixth-grade schools.
Trustees said they instead support construction of an $11.5 million elementary school and a $20 million middle school as part of the bond package.
The district likely will include an estimated $30 million in renovations at other elementary and middle school campuses, Interim Superintendent Mike Cargill said.
The bond issue likely will be put to voters in February, he said. The board previously had agreed on Jan. 29 for the election, but Cargill said the district will need a few extra weeks to market the bond issue to voters.
Moving elementary students to a two-year school for fifth- and sixth-graders would create another transition that may hurt academic performance, said Frances McArthur, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
Students currently are placed in middle school when they begin sixth grade. Separating sixth-graders from seventh- and eighth-graders, who also attend middle school, had been seen as a major advantage of the proposed grade reconfiguration.
But there are no studies or research that can link improved academic performance for students who attend two-year schools for fifth- and sixth-graders, McArthur said. The two-year schools also would hurt teachers’ ability to establish relationships with students, she said.
The information prompted all but two board members to speak against a proposal to establish fifth- and sixth-grade schools.
Brett Cumpton, one of the trustees who moved toward abandoning the plan, said he would have to be sure the schools would work if he were to support them.
“One of the biggest mistakes a school district makes is experimenting with children,” Cumpton said. “I don’t think there’s enough data for us to experiment.”
District officials said they will discuss the change with residents on a 35-member committee that recommended the district construct the the two-year schools for fifth- and sixth-graders.
Meanwhile, a location for the second high school in Bryan has yet to be determined by the board. The school would open to 1,000 students in 2008 and grow to 1,500 if voters approve the bond issue.
• Brett Nauman’s e-mail address is email@example.com.