Staff, parents chip in on College Place grade reconfiguration

Sixth-graders could move from Meadowbrook to Sager as part of work to stem falling enrollment.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- The College Place School Board heard from staff members and some parents Tuesday night their thoughts on a potential grade reconfiguration.

The School District is considering moving its sixth-graders from Meadow Brook Intermediate School to Sager Middle School. The schools rest on the same campus along South College Avenue, with Meadow Brook housing fourth through sixth grades and Sager serving seventh- and eighth-graders.

Last month, Superintendent Tim Payne proposed moving the sixth-grade class to Sager as a way to better define the school's culture, but also as a possible way to curb decreasing enrollment in the middle-school grades. The board believes that the ability to open enroll at Walla Walla Public Schools may be part of the reason the district is losing students.

Payne has made clear he can move forward on the reconfiguration without a board vote, but that he will not implement a change if the board does not support it.

During a special board meeting Tuesday, Payne outlined three potential steps the district could take. In the first, students wouldn't be moved, but the district could seek cost savings by reducing an administrative position.

In another scenario, the district would move the sixth-grade class to Sager. And in a third, more drastic step, the district would also move the third-grade class from Davis Elementary to Meadow Brook to fill classes left vacant by the sixth-graders.

Although opinions were offered in support and against all proposals, many more spoke against moving the third-grade class to Meadow Brook. Some, though, said leaving classrooms empty at Meadow Brook, the district's newest and best building, could draw negative reaction from within the community.

Despite stirring some controversy, moving the sixth-grade class to Sager appeared to have support among the board and also from staff members present at the meeting.

Payne and the board are expected to announce any changes during the regular March board meeting next week.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/schoolhousemissives.

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