No grade shakeup in store for College Place schools

The School Board's approval isn't needed for changing grade configurations, but the superintendent has said he won't do so without their OK.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- Following a month of discussion and input, the College Place School Board voiced its support for leaving grades put for the upcoming year.

The district had been weighing whether to move the sixth-grade class out of Meadow Brook Intermediate School and to Sager Middle School. A declining enrollment in the middle school grades is part of the reason the idea was initially brought forward.

Superintendent Tim Payne first discussed the idea during with the board during it's February meeting. Payne argued that having a full middle school, with three grades, could potentially boost enrollment and elective offerings in the future. The district appears to be losing students to neighboring districts, particularly Walla Walla, which offer open-enrollment.

The move could have left Meadow Brook with just fourth and fifth grades, and a concern of leaving the district's newest facility with vacant classrooms prompted another suggestion: moving the third-grade class from Davis Elementary to Meadow Brook.

During a special board meeting March 9, several staff members voiced strong opposition to moving the third-grade class, although some did say they supported both moves. Continually dropping enrollment in College Place would eventually equal staff cuts.

Last night, board Chairman Doug Case said his recommendation was to do nothing for now, but to continue discussing in a less rushed format a strategy to curb dropping enrollment and highlight the positive offerings in the district. The rest of the board agreed.

Although a reconfiguration would not require board approval, Payne indicated early on that he would not proceed without the board's support. And since the board spoke clearly they would like to wait before implementing drastic changes, he intends to follow their lead.

When a staff member asked if Payne could still move forward with the configuration, he agreed, but said that wasn't his intention.

"I like it here," he said.

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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