Evening Street Elementary School fifth-graders are "moving on up" this fall, breaking out of elementary school to become sixth-grade middle school students at Kilbourne Middle School.

Evening Street Elementary School fifth-graders are "moving on up" this fall, breaking out of elementary school to become sixth-grade middle school students at Kilbourne Middle School.

Superintendent Trent Bowers said Evening Street was "in critical need" of additional classroom space, so all sixth-grade classes will move to Kilbourne for the 2016-17 school year.

Every other district elementary school will stick with its grade K-6 model.

"Evening Street has a critical need for an additional classroom each of the next three to four years," Bowers said. "Short-term adjustments have worked over the past few years to house current students and programs, but will no longer address the needs at Evening Street."

He said the move would free up three classrooms at Evening Street, allowing the district to immediately add another first-grade classroom. It also would allow additional space for the future, until a more permanent solution is found.

"The move of our sixth-graders to KMS allows their peer group to stay together," Bowers said. "This was the first-choice option of parents who provided feedback on the proposed solutions."

KMS sixth-graders will participate in the same sixth-grade core academic programs delivered at the district's elementary schools.

The middle school will add a lunch period to serve the sixth-graders and teachers in art, music and physical education will teach an additional period just for the sixth-graders.

"Three classrooms of seventh- and eighth-graders will relocate to a different part of the school, to be occupied by the sixth-grade teachers, who will move from Evening Street to KMS," Bowers said. "Overall, the change is minimal for the middle school and will not affect any programming offered to seventh- and eighth-graders."

KMS Principal Pete Scully said he and his staff would be ready for the sixth-graders in the fall.

"We have placed the sixth-graders in their own hallway," he said. "This decision required some teachers to give up rooms and share spaces. Certainly, this is not easy, but we expect only a minimal disruption to staff and it will not take away from the programs or offerings for kids."

He said all sixth-graders would have rooms and lockers in the same general area, along with their own lunch period. They would have the same school start and end time as the middle school students.

"Their schedule during the day may vary a bit, based on the needs and wishes of the sixth-grade team," Scully said. "In other words, just because a bell rings, doesn't mean our sixth-graders will be changing classes."

He said staff members are working to provide a smooth transition.

"Our first goal is to provide a comparable sixth-grade experience for our new students," he said. "We are confident that we can accomplish this fairly easily.

"Our second goal is to ensure that we provide a welcoming, safe and responsive environment for our new students and staff," he said. "We have had and are planning several formal opportunities for parents and kids to transition smoothly into KMS."

Scully has a standing meeting twice a month with the sixth-grade teaching team to work through details, troubleshoot, share ideas and "ensure that we are agile in our response to the emerging needs of our kids, staff and families."

"What we know is that the big pieces are in place and will be fine," he said. "We also know that the little pieces will need regular attention, communication and adjustment to meet the needs of kids and families."

@PamelaThisWeek