South Walton Fifth Graders Might Be Moved to Middle School

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Jdarg, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. organicmama

    organicmama Beach Fanatic

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    Honestly, it is the issue that this matter is thrust upon parents during the last quarter of the school year. We haven't had 6 months or a year to deal with this & prepare our children for going into middle school. One minute, they are planning on being the "big kids on campus" the following year and the next minute, we are being told that they might be going to middle school after the last 7 weeks of this year are up. That's pretty mind-boggling for many people.

    I went to the meeting. Overwhelmingly, it was the fact that this was not expected, at least not in this hectic manner, that upsets the parents the most.

    Changes happen. That's life. It's the rushing the whole thing through that frustrates so many of us.
     
  2. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    I understand what you are saying. I was thinking how the children must feel to not have their last year as the "big kids on campus" at their school...

    That, and the fact that it seems Walton Co School system just can't plan ahead, is the frustrating point.

    On the other hand, it is a good opportunity to learn to deal with unexpected changes...which is certainly a life lesson worth learning.

    From what I've seen, I think we could use some change in the school administration...
     
  3. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    great points friend!
     
  4. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    thanks for your comments, OM. you describe the exact reasons for frustration and why parents are upset. so, what was the result of the meeting? anything at this point?
     
  5. organicmama

    organicmama Beach Fanatic

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    The result of the meeting is that we heard why they are thinking of doing this and that the Superintendent will give her recommendation at the meeting to the board on the 5th of April. She will present what the "parents had to say" at the meetings here and in Freeport.

    There was one vocal approval of the proposed changes and I understand why this person was saying it, I simply feel that as students, staff, parents, etc. we really needed a year to adjust to this change and prepare for it, instead of springing it on the board and then springing on the parents. There were others there that approved of the changes, but they were not as vocal as the majority of parents that are not happy with the proposal.

    I was glad to see more than just parents of 4th graders there, but a little disappointed at the lack of turnout also.

    I was not happy with the suggestion that we, as parents, stop holding on so tight and let our kids go, as was stated by one school system representative. We already have enough problems with kids growing up & the subsequent societal problems that we have today, I'm not just going to let go of my parenting responsibilities until it's time to do so.

    Here is my suggestion:
    Let the people who WANT to put their children in ECMS or can be bribed to do so... If they allow themselves to be bribed, then it wasn't that important to them in the first place is my opinion... and then let those who really want their students to stay in elementary school for 1 more year to be able to (because this was such short notice). THEN, put all 5th graders that register after the beginning of next school year into the middle school. THEN make it known that next year's 5th graders will all be in ECMS. If someone is presenting an optional plan to the school board, that would be my vote.

    I am not saying that because my child is in 4th. I am saying that because it gives a transition. This is not a transition.
     
  6. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    Walton School Board votes to move fifth-graders | votes, graders, walton - BREAKING NEWS - WaltonSun.com
    I wasn't able to go to the meeting last night. Can someone who was there clarify something for me. We currently have a middle school co-located with Butler Elem. We have a new middle school just built. Do I understand correctly that when all the middle school students who are moved from the buildings co-located at Butler, to the newly built school, that emptied space is not large enough for the fifth graders at Butler to occupy? And so, that is the reason the superintendent recommended putting the fifth graders at the new middle school location? But, now there must be enough space, since the School Board voted to let the parents of those fifth graders have an option of staying at Butler for one more year? Am I understanding this correctly?
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  7. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][FONT=Arial][SIZE=3][FONT=Arial] [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=black]As reported last night on WZEP AM 1460:[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]



    [B]WCSB Looks At Changing 5th Graders in Southern Walton[/B][FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]With class space and class size issues a yearly task, Walton Superintendent Carlene Anderson made a recommendation to change the 5th grade classes, by moving them from the elementary schools to space in the middle schools.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]Anderson said her recommendation comes after the gathering of data, business sense and emotions. She said they have had to act quickly due to student growth. Van R. Butler has enrolled 12 students in the last few days. She said her original recommendation was to move 5th grade programs in Freeport and the south end to the middle schools. Anderson said she met with parents and now recommends the 5th grade program at Van R. Butler and Bay Elementary be provided on an optional basis at the new middle school in southern Walton. This would be for the next school year with a mandatory change the following year. She still recommends the Freeport 5th grade program be moved to the Freeport Middle School. Anderson also recommended the Board look at school facility needs in their five year plan as they prepare the budget. This includes possibly building a new wing on the new Emerald Coast Middle School.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]Anderson and the Board talked about the new wing and if the construction could begin soon. The attorney said they might have to seek proposals for the additional wing, even though the Middle School contractor is still working. Other possible options were noted such as making Butler a K-3 grade and the middle school a 4-8 grade school and using Bay for a school. The question is not just class space, but facility needs such as lunch rooms and media centers.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]Butler[/FONT][FONT=Arial]?s capacity without portables is 667 with a current enrollment of 879. The school uses portables, but they are considered temporary. Bay Elementary has a capacity of 286 with a current enrollment at 312.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]Board members asked to consider all viable options during the budget process. Anderson explained how purposing a classroom for ESE children means loosing seats due to no other students allowed unless they are in the same ESE situation. She noted they have added classrooms each year and the problem is from enrollment spikes. Anderson said if they have space in one area, then they move students from another area. The class size requirements are after a vote by Florida residents who said they feel the needs of the students were best served by lower class sizes and approved a constitutional amendment to lower class size.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]Parents attending the meeting said they appreciate the issues the Superintendent and Board are faced with, but they do not want their 5th graders with middle school students. One parent said she has heard about the class numbers but wondered about the students and what is best for them. Another parent said they believe, due to developmental differences, the move would be damaging to the students. Parents suggested forming committees or study groups to look at other options. One parent said she wanted the board to vote all nay and not move the 5th graders this year. She said she would like to see about expediting construction and if necessary they will hold a fundraiser.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial] [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]The Board voted to accept the recommendation to move the Freeport 5th graders to the Freeport Middle School and to allow an option to move south Walton 5th graders this coming year and have a mandatory move the year after, with an annual review after the October FTE count. They will also look at the five-year plan and look at any viable options. The recommendation could change later depending on the enrollment needs.[/FONT]
    [/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]
     
  8. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    I saw this and that's what raised my question.

    Butler?s capacity without portables is 667 with a current enrollment of 879. The school uses portables, but they are considered temporary. Bay Elementary has a capacity of 286 with a current enrollment at 312.


    So, how many middle school students are presently in the buildings co-located at Butler?

    Is there not room for the "over capacity" 212 students at Butler in the space currently used by the middle school?

    I would think there are more than 212 students in the middle school--but, maybe not

    What am I missing here?
     
  9. jodiFL

    jodiFL Beach Fanatic

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    What I cant seem to comprehend is that every new school in SOWAL has opened over capacity but the powers that be dont seem to think there are enough kids down here to warrant bigger and/or more schools. This has been going on since my kids STARTED school down here. They are both out now and Walton Co. STILL cant get it right. I hope that everyone that has friends/family back in ATL or Bham (or where ever) share these things with them before encouraging families to move here. It may be the most beautiful place to live but its definitely NOT all unicorns and rainbows. Think about the kids before you consider a move that will impact THEM for most of their formative years. And dont think you can change it before it affects them. It took how many years to get a post -1938 school building around here???
     
  10. Douglas the Intrepid

    Douglas the Intrepid Beach Fanatic

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    Even running over capacity, the schools here run rings around anything public in Atlanta or Birmingham. What you also get here besides A+ schools is old time value systems and the peace of mind that your kids have time to enjoy being kids, something many Schools in our country lack.
     
  11. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    It was a tough call Tuesday. Here is what happened at Butler. Yes, we have now constructed a new middle school (which, by the way, many people said was not needed when we started it) and the old ECMS is available to the Butler kids beginning next year. There would be roughly 144 extra student stations available if we were moving middle school kids from Butler to the old ECMS. But, with the class size amendment, we can have more kids in a middle school classroom than an elementary class room, so that "extra space" is reduced by 4 bodies per available classrooms. Those number DO NOT include portables.

    I want to do away with portables as soon as possible. Just my prejudice.

    Give the historical growth patterns, we believed when we started on the new ECMS, that once we completed the new ECMS and allow Butler to take over the old ECMS we would have more than ample space, without portables, for the k-5 students.

    Unfortunately, a trend started developing last year where the historical data just went out the window. Butler grew much faster beginning at the end of last school year and during this school year than we ever anticipated. In fact, faster than anyone anticipated. Also, for some reason, our special student education population grew quickly at Butler and Bay. Those kids often have be put in a classrom of less than ten kids, putting further pressure on the space down there. So, as I said at both the parent meeting and the board meeting, we got caught with our britches down.

    We will fix the problem through construction eventually. Fortunately, we designed the new ECMS as a K-8 facility so that the "core facilities" the kitchen, office, media center, can accomodate a new elementary wing adjacent to the school. That will certainly speed up building those new classrooms.

    One idea that has been floated for the future is to build the elementary school wing at the new ECMS site. Turn Butler and the new elementary wing into 2 - 5 centers and convert Bay into a Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade center.

    The move of the 5th graders to the middle school will be, I believe, a stop gap measure to allow us to catch up. We will start the capital outlay budget cycle in June and I am sure, given what has happened in elementary grades in south Walton, we will dramtically change that plan. I trust that the administration and teachers at ECMS will do an excellent job at shielding and protecting the 5th graders from too much pain.

    Thanks guys for the input.....
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  12. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    By the way, neither South Walton High School nor Butler opened at or above capacity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  13. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    Mark, thanks for your post.
    I agree with you about the portables. My granddaughter is in one this year, and when I went to have lunch and visit the other day, I thought it was "cramped, and closed in" feeling. (That's not a complaint just an observation.)

    I guess it is hard to anticipate the growth in a place like South Walton.

    One more question though: would it not have been less disruptive to move as many students as possible into the space vacated by the middle school; use portables for the (hopefully) few remaining students left for this coming year; and then initiate the move to the new middle school space the following year, after the students and the parents had been informed about it and the reasons for it....

    I think all too often here in Walton County, things are thrust upon people with little lead time and even less explanation and the human nature reaction is usually not a positive one.

    Many are not able to attend School Board meetings--but, even those seem less informative than they might be. Just my opinion...generally, I think our schools in Walton County are very good. They might be better if the communication system between school administrators and parents and others in the community was improved. Hopefully, the compromise position will work out for everyone involved.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  14. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    How does the 1/2 mill transfer from Capital to Operating (to be held in May as a single item election) affect your ability to build what you want. Do you have sufficient capital revenues projected to handle this need or should voters not support the transfer to help with this project.

    Do we need to postpone the 6 million dollar football filed project to speed up this critical need.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  15. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Good luck Bob, you're treading on sacred ground there.
     
  16. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    Sometimes life presents us with choices:


    View attachment 19227


    No Ball field + no 1/2 mill transfer = 11.5 million for a new wing now !

    I am really just picking at Mark, both questions are loaded and he knows it, but it is a real option. I also know who really, really wanted the new ball field.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011
  17. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    Bob: I believe we will have sufficient revenues in capital outlay to build the classroom space in south Walton even with the half mill transfer. That opinion is based on the projections I have seen regarding our tax base.

    Obviously, I agree that classrooms come before the improvements to the outdoor facilities at WHS. It is not just the football stadium. As you know, we have serious ADA problems with the football, baseball and softball facilities and we need to get them corrected, but, priorities are what they are and classroom space is necessary.

    You might recall we lowered the capital outlay millage last year. I voted for it after we compromised on a smaller cut than proposed, but, I was afraid we would need the money later. We don't have any other large projects except for the new sixth grade wing at WMS. But, that may have to wait as well.

    We will come up with a responsible plan.
     
  18. idlewind

    idlewind Beach Fanatic

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    Generally you have to commend the Walton School Board as being responsible and responsive. They do not often get caught with their britches down.
     
  19. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    I sure you will Mark but I truly believe that this is a very difficult year for schools. Until we see what the legislature does it can change dramatically.

    I still say we fund schools with the wrong revenue stream, but thats just me I guess. We need more stability in revenue streams.

    Thanks for your answer - part of my question was tongue in cheek.
     
  20. Lake Eastern

    Lake Eastern Beach Lover

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    I hope that you will consider your idea for "change in the school administration" very carefully. I remember quite well the superintendent from 96-2000 who was crucified for building schools that didn't have enough students. I believe it was your political party members who pushed the campaign. Carlene is doing an excellent job. I would hope that people would be a little slower to question her decisions than they were in this area a decade ago. But then again, as one of my favorite long time resident stated
    "in South Walton we take one step forward and 2 steps back".
     

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