Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Questions & Answers Regarding the Third Grade Location for the 2014-15 School Year

Why is moving 3rd grade to Fowler being considered?                                                                                        

When the new High School was being proposed, the MSBA required the eighth grade to be included in the project to make the project large enough for them to consider.  There was discussion that Green Meadow was overcrowded at that time and perhaps they could occupy the vacant space at Fowler.
School Committee Assistant Chair Kohlman has kept his own enrollment data over the last 13 years and has done an analysis of his data.  He has compared the NESDEC enrollment projections to his data as a cross reference as well.  Dr. Kohlman’s analysis affirms a projection that moving 8th and 3rd grade will balance each of the three Maynard schools to a population of about 500 students.  The question remains, will that be the best use of space for instruction at each school. 

Some Staff members have expressed a concern that if the High School ever got too crowded, would there be a need to shift the 8th and 3rd grades again?

Using the last three years of very high enrollment increases at all three schools, Superintendent Gerardi had queried whether the 8th grade would be able to stay at MHS if the enrollments continued to increase.  Dr. Kohlman’s analysis identified that the projections suggest that the new Maynard High school should be able to keep the 8th grade class at that location.  This should alleviate any concerns that we will be moving grades back and forth over the next decade.

What are the space issues at Green Meadow?                                                                                                       

Green Meadow Parking as well as pick-up and drop-off outdoor space is challenging.  Of all of our schools, Green Meadow has the least amount of parking for staff and visitors.  Green Meadow also has the most congested pick-up and drop-offs.
Currently the English Language Learners (ELL) Teacher does not have her own class and is sharing a classroom with the Excel Program.  Many spaces in Green Meadow are shared.

The Preschool this year required the use of an additional classroom and next year there will be a need for another additional classroom due to increasing enrollments.

Which option will cost the district more money?                                                                                            

The committee has identified the cost to move the third grade to Fowler would include an additional bus, moving expenses and curricular materials. These costs would add up to approximately $65,985.  Some of these costs would be reoccurring and others would be a onetime cost:

How would students be dismissed and dropped off?                                                                                                  

Like Green Meadow there are entrances and exits for lower and upper grade students.

Will the amount of recess and lunch time remain the same?                                                                          

Yes, these schedules at Green Meadow will be similar at Fowler.

If 3rd grade moves up to Fowler, does the 5th grade move to a wing that is more like a middle school?                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The 5th grade would be physically moved upstairs but would still be isolated in one wing and still be run as an elementary model for instruction, supervision, and management.

How will assemblies address the needs of this age range?                                                                      

Fowler has whole school assemblies once in great while for special events.  During those events, students are seated by grade and their teachers sit or stand near them.  However it is more common for Fowler to have community meetings by grade level.

How will the administration address the needs of such an age range in terms of posters, decorations, bathroom facilities, height of water fountains etc.?                                                                          

As we toured Fowler, we noticed that most of the wall hangings are student work and any other posters tend to be motivational and appropriate in nature.  In regard to the facility, Principal Mela reminded us that Fowler was never built as a Middle School.  It was designed as a school that houses two schools within a school and has always operated that way.  All of the bathrooms have low and lower facilities to accommodate both elementary as well as middle aged students.

Should mixing 8 year old students with 12 year old students on the bus and during unsupervised times before and after school be concerning for families?                                                                                    

The younger kids are assigned to sit in the front of the bus and the older kids are assigned to sit in the back.  Principal Mela gets on the bus to remind students of this regularly.  Principal Mela identified that it is human nature to have some disciplinary issues in any school, which is why Assistant Principal’s are needed to help educate students to be good citizens and school community members.   His experience during the last 12 years at Fowler as an Assistant Principal and Principal is that on the bus or in the halls, the older students tend not to interact with the younger students. During most of this time the range of student’s ages were 9 to 13.  While current age separation on the bus has been a functional model to maintain discipline, there are still concerns that the proposed range of students on the bus is an opportunity for inappropriate language or behaviors to occur.

Will moving 3rd grade to Fowler impact the Title I program and services?                                                                                

Yes, it would have a negative impact.  Because our Title I program is a targeted program for Green Meadow School only, the third grade students would lose the additional instructional benefits (primarily small group or 1:1 support in reading) that the Title I targeted services.

Will moving 3rd grade impact students with IEP's?                                                                       

Due to the larger number of special education services provided at Green Meadow, it was suggested that communication for parents and program efficiencies for improved academics for students with IEP's could be realized by moving the 3rd grade to Fowler.

What is the current status of places for children to play outside at Fowler (currently no playground and 4th and 5th and recess is generally in the field)?                                                                                       

The School Committee is aware of the lack of a playground at Fowler for the 4th and 5th grade students and asked Principal Mela to start a playground committee last year.  School Committee Chair, Amy Rebecca Gay, has submitted a CPC Grant and placed this request on the Maynard capital improvement plan for funding as of July1, 2014.  She and Principal Mela are doing this in advocacy for more play space for the 4th and 5th grade students.  If this playground is funded, it could be constructed in the summer of 2014 and ready for the next school year.

Although there is a plan in place for the Fowler playground, concerns have been raised that if the plan is delayed, it might make sense to delay the move by one more year to make sure everything is in place. 

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