Oregon City Schools held a public forum Monday to discuss the possible reconfiguration of middle school grades to improve academic achievement.
The district held the first of a series of six public meetings tonight at Jerusalem Elementary School in Curtice. Superintendent Dr. Michael Zalar fielded questions from parents concerning the reconfiguration, which would break up the current grades 6-8 middle school format. Although it would not be implemented until the 2013-14 school year the proposal would group 5th and 6th grade students at one school, and 7th and 8th graders at another.
"Ultimately, we're trying to improve our student achievement and our test scores for kids." Zalar told WNWO. "The board wants to make sure the community understands the reasoning behind it and has a chance to voice their concerns both positive or negative."
Dr. Zalar addressed questions about class sizes, transportation, and the impact to academics and extra-curricular activities. The associated costs for extra bussing "are not going to necessarily be game-changing," said Zalar. He added, "We are not going to get rid of junior high bussing." He also noted the same number of teachers will be retained but some would be at different schools.
BOE President P.J. Kapfhammer alluded to his 6th-grade daughter's heavy work load of an average 2-3 hours of homework each night. "She is not digesting it because it is such a fast-forward curriculum." He argues student performance would benefit from more individualized attention and closer interactions with peers of their own age. Kapfhammer said, "I can't wait to give my kids a better chance at being successful."
The district will hold similar community forums throughout the next two weeks from 7-8 p.m. in the library of each building.
Coy Elementary- Monday, October 1st
Eisenhower Middle- Monday, October 8th
Fassett Middle- Thursday, October 11th
Starr Elementary- Monday October 15th
Clay High School- Wednesday, October 24th
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