Merging an elememtary and a middle school

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ranchwife, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Nov 17, 2009

    Our district recently eliminated the elementary principal's position due to budget reasons. The middle school principal is now overseeing both sites (which are about 300 yards apart). A discussion is just starting regarding possibly merging the two sites into one. There would still be two separate school buildings - one housing k-5 (and possibly 6) and the other housing 7-8 (and possibly 6th). Our principal wants to hear all the pros and cons before he makes up his mind if it is even worth dealing with. This will be a long process with our principal weighing everything and talking to everyone before he decides to even approach the board if needed.

    I have my own opinions about the possible merge, but I'm looking at from the inside. Could get some feedback on the pros and cons you see as an outsider. Budgets, staffing, different levels, sports, kids perception, etc. are some things to consider.

    Thanks for your help. I appreciate it!
     
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  3. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    I've never liked k-8 schools in one building because I don't think 8th graders should be around such small children, but for your case- I think its a great idea! I doubt much would change for the kid's experience besides they would get a longer time at their school. I think your school should go for it!
     
  4. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It might work better than the k-8's I've seen because they're two seperate buildings. I've never liked the idea because of the vast difference between 5 year olds and 13 year olds. There's just too many problems that can, and do, happen. I'll post in more detail later. I've got to go in a minute.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 17, 2009

    The bulk of the elementary schools in my board (which is one of the biggest in the province) are JK-8; there are only a few junior-high/senior-public (6-8) schools. This was also my experience growing up, so it's really all I've ever known. Our older students take on a leadership role with the younger ones and it tends to work really well.
     
  6. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    My district recently closed it's one middle school and relocated all 7-8 students to the elementary schools. We're in the third year of this.

    I think it's a good idea. The middle school students still get treated like middle school students. They have multiple teachers, block scheduling, electives and most of the things a middle school program has to offer.

    The one big advantage is this. Whenever a 7th or 8th grader walks onto our campus, they are likely to encounter teachers and staff members who have known them since they were five. This has a very positive effect on their behavior.
     
  7. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2009

    We have been a K-8 for 4 years now. Prior to that we were a middle school with 6-8 children. There were parents concerned with 8th graders around kindergarten; however, we have never had a problem with that other than inappropriate language used by middle schoolers at times. One positive is that we have tons of families at school with multiple children K-8. The older children are often responsible for bringing their siblings to school and picking them up at the end of the day. It has been wonderful to watch the older students become mentors with the younger students. This has been especially positive for students who were academicly struggling in middle school; they go help in the younger grades and are looked up to, which has built their self-esteem.

    Two separate buildings is tough because you will have to really work through how to build a sense of community from K-8 with students and staff. I've been split at a school that was located at two different sites; it was tough to build community.
     
  8. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Nov 17, 2009

    K-8 was the way I grew up, as well.

    The local district here has recently been putting the 6th graders back at the elementarys and reducing middle school to 7-8 with the eventual hope of closing one of the middle schools due to budget cuts. So far, so good, I think.

    I think it would be great if you could create a community of older kids helping younger ones but I would keep the older ones in a separate building and separate playgrounds. I think it would be intimidating for younger ones to have to mingle at lunch, playground, etc.

    Some of our principals have to do more than 1 site and it is very difficult. Yours are closer together, but it still puts stress on the staff and calls for excellent communication.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2009

    Our students all eat in their classrooms--no cafeterias in elementary schools here--and we have separate areas of the schoolyard designated for grades 1-3 and 4-8.
     
  10. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 18, 2009

    The district I grew up in was rather... odd

    K-3 = Elementary School
    4-5 = Intermediate School
    Then they redistricted, and it became:
    K-6 = Elementary
    7-8 = Middle School
    9-12 = High School

    Now they have redistricted AGAIN this past year, and now it is:
    K-4 = Elementary
    5-6 = Intermediate School (They built a second floor on the old intermediate school to accommodate all of the students)
    7-8 = Middle School
    9-12 = High School
     
  11. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    Nov 18, 2009

    Last year I taught in a school that had recently become PK-8. The PK was in a separate building about a one minute walk from the school and then there was a K-4 building attached to a 5-8 building. Just last year they put one principal in charge of both and honestly in felt more like an elementary school and middle school just pushed together than a PK-8 school. For the most all staff meetings were either all elementary or all middle school and each school had their own cafeteria and rotational arts classes (although fourth grade would go to the middle school for theirs due to numbers).
     
  12. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    As far a separating students, we have the school set up so that classrooms are on different sides of the campus, but there is no actual enforced separation. 8th graders are free to go to the K-4 side of the playground (but they generally don't.) Breaks and recesses are at different times, but there is some overlap. First graders will often be playing tag next to 8th graders playing basketball. My first graders have never seemed to be "intimidated" by the big kids.

    All kids eat in the same cafeteria - but not at the same time.

    The only problem we've had has been the noisy little ones wandering over to where the 6-8 classrooms are (they open up to the playground) when the big kids have been in class.

    As far as I know, there has not been a single incident of a 6th, 7th, or 8th grader bothering a younger student. I'm fairly certain that if there were, the other 6th, 7th, and 8th would not look kindly upon it. Kids at that age are creatures of peer pressure, and even the most streetwise adolescent troublemaker that picking on little kids just isn't cool.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2009

    Well said, Sarge.
     
  14. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Nov 18, 2009

    I went to a K-8 school. I loved it because we were allowed to be the big kids on campus. We buddy read with the little ones, we took care of the flags outside, we were helpers to the teachers, and other fun things. I taught in a Pre-K--8th school. I loved it. I used 8th graders that were finished with their work for art projects. They were the extra hands that I would need for a short period of time. We also had a daycare on site. The 8th graders would argue about who got to go help in there. They loved to help with the little ones--especially our boys.
     
  15. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Nov 18, 2009

    My entire district is housed in one facility. We are 3 separate schools with own admin but all buildings are connected. Each building has own gym but they share one lunch room which is located in the elementary part. So we do have a few problems occasionally with older kids roaming the halls at lunchtime, or smoking in the bathroom...not too many issues though, and supervision is the main deterrent.

    I love our set up because the super & treasurer are also on site so there's no problems trying to take care of paperwork or other employment issues.

    It allows us to have high school helpers in the elementary. There's no recess for 6-12 so no playground issues. Main thing is the lunchroom.
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Okay, I have time to post now.

    My primary concern with K-8's has nothing to do with big kids picking on little kids. Although that does happen in some schools (as one of my old neighbors can attest, but that school pulled from some really rough areas as well as some middle class areas), I don' think that violence on the part of the bigger kids is a big enough problem to justify sweeping away the idea entirely.

    Middle schools have been around for a long time in some form or another. We have recognized for years that kids in this "in-between" age have some pretty specific needs. They're not little kids anymore, but they're not teenagers either. It's a transitional age that comes with a whole host of issues and needs. If these kids are grouped with a whole bunch of little kids, there's a very real chance that thier needs will be overshadowed by the neds of the little ones. It's difficult for any administration to focus on two groups who are so very different and be able to effectively meet the needs of both groups. On top of all that, k-8's tend to get very large. It would be easy for any kid to get lost in a school with so many other students. The little ones could get lost in the shuffle and the big kids could take advantage of the school's size and get into more trouble than they would have in a smaller school.

    For this particular situation, I like the idea of keeping the buildings seperate because then the faculty of each level can remain focused on the needs of thier particular students. Also, if the school does grow large, there's still that illusion of a smaller size.
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    One more thing. I did work in a k-12 environment and loved it, but the school was intentionally kept tiny. There was only one class per grade, allthough the middle and high school classes were seperated into regular and honors. Tiny helps in a school that houses a lot of grades.
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    In most large school districts, you have multiple elementary schools feeding into larger middle schools.

    At the age of 11 or 12, kids are moved from a school they are familiar with and know all or most of the kids and teachers to one that is foreign and where then only know a fraction of their classmates.

    This is very traumatic for a lot of kids. They get very lost.

    We do this under the guise of "preparing" them for high school. But the environment in high school isn't much different than that of middle school. Sure, they are ready, but at what cost?

    When you have K-8 schools, what you do is postpone this culture shock until they are a few years older and better equipped to deal with it.
     
  19. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    As a pe teacher that has used older kids with little kids I love it.
    I think giving 6-8th graders some responsibility makes them
    become more mature. I used to use it as a reward and it was
    great. Now my experience in school was backwards, We had a 7-12 school and so the 7/8th kids were the LOW men on the totem pole and were policed by the big kids. I think it was a good system.
    I sure remember being in love with those sr cheerleaders.
     
  20. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Nov 18, 2009

    I teach at a K-8 school. The K-5 is upstairs and the middle school, 6-8, is downstairs. The middle schoolers rarely even run into K-5 students, unless they're going to the office, gym, or cafeteria, which the whole school shares.

    My only complaint is that we have all school assemblies, K-8, and they tend to be geared toward the younger kids. My middle schoolers HATE going to these because it makes them feel like a little kid. I can't blame them, though. They're a little cheesy. And the other thing is announcements in the morning are heard throughout the whole school and our principal tends to use her "talking to a little kid" voice, which really irks the older kids (and myself).

    Other than that, I guess it's okay. Personally, I went to a 7-8 middle school which was separate from my elementary school and loved it. I would prefer the middle school be separate, but that's just my opinion.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about.
     
  22. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I've taught at two k-8 schools and they are a BAD idea. My 4th graders are mimicking the behaviors of the middle school kids. I believe that inappropriate behaviors increase when elementary and middle schools combine. It is a BAD idea. This city combined a lot of our elementary and middle schools and a lot of these schools became very dangerous. You need to have a tough zero tolerance policy in place right away or it will fail.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 18, 2009

    I think that the idea of housing them in 2 separate buidlings, but still calling it one school, makes a lot of sense.

    The middle schoolers would still have their own identity. They wouldn't necessarily have to share assemblies with the younger kids (in my 6-12 school, we very often have an assembly-- say on SAT prep-- for one grade and not the others.)

    But a lot of the redundancies would be eliminated, thus saving some serious money.

    And there's the added benefit of having twice the facilities. So if it's the week before the middle school sports night, each team could practice in a separate gym at the same time.
     
  24. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 18, 2009

    We solved this problem by not having the big kids go to the little kids assemblies and visa versa. Also, the teachers do their own announcements. The kids generally don't listen to the box on the wall anyway.
     

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