to find space

to find space

for Colonial

Hills students

A proposal to send Colonial Hills sixth-graders to middle school next year will probably be scrapped and a committee of parents has been appointed to come up with a better plan.

That was the outcome of a special meeting held April 16 in the Colonial Hills Elementary School multi-purpose room.

About 200 parents -- most clearly not pleased with the district's announcement that next year's sixth-graders would no longer attend the neighborhood elementary school -- turned out to listen to administrators and to share their opinions.

Most said that they wanted their sixth-graders to have one more year of childhood instead of moving on to middle school. One mother said she did not want her sixth-grade daughter "interacting with seventh- and eighth-graders."

Many said the students would miss sixth-grade traditions such as the lip-sync competition and the end of the year "clap out."

None seemed swayed by the information that Worthington and Bexley are the only central Ohio school districts that still have kindergarten through sixth-grade configurations. In other districts, middle school is for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

"We can't discount what it means to people who buy into this school and this district who want a K-6 education," said Russ Carnahan, parent of a fifth-grader.

Administrators made the decision to send about 49 sixth-grade Colonial Hills students to Kilbourne Middle School when they realized that there were not enough classrooms to handle projected enrollment at Colonial Hills next year.

At the same time, enrollment continues to decline at KMS and at other district middle schools. There will be two empty classrooms at KMS next year, just the right fit for the Colonial Hills sixth grade.

Enrollment at Colonial Hills has not grown dramatically, but the growth has been centered at the primary grades. Both the first and third grades will need an additional classroom next year, though the number of second-grade classrooms probably will decrease by one.

Growth is projected to continue the following year, meaning that even if enough classroom space is found for next year, a long-term solution is needed, according to assistant superintendent Paul Cynkar.

One of the solutions to be considered is to only offer one K-plus (full-day kindergarten) at Colonial Hills next year. That would free up a classroom.

A classroom now being used for academic intervention programs such as Title One could also move into a smaller space.

Other options are to close the technology lab, replacing it with a cart of laptop computers that could move among classrooms.

While the Colonial Hills committee looks at that school's challenge, administrators will take a look at how the district will face the coming elementary school enrollment growth -- and middle school decline -- across the district.

The situation is complicated by the fact that there must be space for three additional special education classes next year.

Superintendent Melissa Conrath promised the Colonial Hills parents that an answer for their immediate situation will be forthcoming within four weeks.

"There is a sense of urgency for getting something resolved," she said.