A committee of Bexley City Schools administrators, parents, teachers and students is making progress in preparing for the transition of sixth-grade classes from the district's three elementary schools to Bexley Middle School next school year.

One hire will be made to fill a new teaching position, while nine current teaching positions will be transferred from the elementary schools to staff the middle school at 300 S. Cassingham Road, said Superintendent Mike Johnson. Of the nine teaching positions that are transferring to the middle school, at least two teachers will have to be hired to fill them due to retirements, he added.

"I think we are going to be able to put staff in preferred locations" in the middle school, Johnson said during the Bexley City Schools Board of Education's Feb. 13 meeting. "It's voluntary transfers."

Bexley Middle School Principal Jason Caudill said he projects that sixth-grade class sizes would remain at optimal levels at the middle school.

"Our class sizes sit in the 20 to 24 range, predominantly, but it requires one additional staff member" in addition to the nine transferring teachers, he said.

Caudill said he has had discussions with city of Bexley officials about enhancing pedestrian safety at the intersections at Cassingham Road and East Broad Street, Cassingham and Fair Avenue, and Cassingham and East Main Street.

"Those locations are ideal because they're straight shots to the (Cassingham) complex," Caudill said.

An additional measure to ensure middle school students' safety is ending "open lunch" and requiring students to bring a note from parents and sign out if they want to leave the building during lunch periods, Caudill said. Requiring students to sign out is a suggestion that came out of a community survey the district conducted last fall regarding the sixth-grade transition, he said.

"Eighth-grade students will retain their open lunch for one school year only as part of the transition" and will have to sign out beginning with the 2018-19 school year, Caudill said.

Some existing middle school classrooms will have to be modified to house science laboratories, Caudill said.

In response to board member Mike Denison's question about how much the building modifications and other expenses associated with the sixth-grade move will cost, Caudill said he will provide the board with a tally beyond the total $250,000 that was initially projected once the move has been completed.

In other business, Mark Yoho, director of the College Board's Midwest region, presented recognition from the Advanced Placement Honor Roll to Harley Williams, principal of Bexley High School.

The Honor Roll acknowledges that Bexley High School has not only increased access to AP, it has improved students' performance at the same time. The designation was earned by slightly more than 400 schools in the U.S. this year, he said.

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