Parents, staff and others in the Groveport Madison school district will be asked to participate in a survey this month to gauge their thoughts on which grades should be placed together in schools.

The grade-configuration survey is being conducted by Hanover Research, an educational research firm located in Arlington, Virginia.

Because of overcrowding in the schools, district officials are reviewing their options and discussing the possibility of building new schools.

A new Groveport Madison High School is under construction and is expected to be finished this spring.

The survey is designed to get input about how grades K-8 should be aligned in school buildings and the impact such alignments would have on school climate and academics.

Hanover Research content director Anthony Guadagni told the school board Jan. 10 the most common classroom configuration in the United States is the middle school model, which places students in kindergarten through fifth grade in one building, those in grades 6-8 in another building and grades 9-12 in a separate building.

As part of its research, he said his company is trying to "establish a common understanding about what impact there is with grade configurations," academic outcomes, social-emotional development and alterative configurations for buildings.

Possible options include:

* Placing students in grades K-2 in one building, grades 3-4 in another building, grades 5-6 in a separate building, and grades 7-8 in another building.

* Housing grades K-5 together and grades 6-8 together.

* Placing grades K-6 under one roof and grades 7-8 under another.

* House grades K-8 in one building.

Survey respondents will be asked to review the options and respond to questions that focus on the perceived impact each configuration would have on transportation, students' social and emotional development and academic performance. Respondents also will be asked their overall preference of the grade configuration options.

Guadagni said the survey will gather information on the public's perceptions about the district.

"Overall, the idea here is to understand the perceptions and get a baseline pulse of academic and social programming in the district, how people feel about things and how might that influence broader perceptions throughout the district," Guadagni said.

"Ultimately, if we had a single question here from the perspective of the stakeholders, it would be, 'Is the district meeting its primary goal?' which is to educate the students."

Survey result are expected to be finalized by March 1.

After the survey is completed, Hanover Research will conduct focus groups to gather additional feedback on the needs for schools in the district and what grades should be in each building.

Deputy Superintendent John Hurd said district officials have met with the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which will provide some cost estimates for the different configurations, including how much the state and the district would pay for each. That information also should be released by March 1.