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Transition team planning sixth-graders’ move to middle schools

MADISON – In-depth planning now is underway for sixth-graders in Madison City Schools to shift from elementary to middle schools for the 2018-2019 school year.

A ‘transition team’ that will guide the location change for students held its first meeting on Aug. 30 at MSC Central Office. This broad-based committee’s role is to form ideas and recommend plans for the move next year.

“The 60-member committee is comprised of parents, elementary and secondary teachers, counselors, special education representatives, principals, several board of education members and school district officials,” MCS Public Relations Manager John S. Peck said.

The decision to move sixth grade into middle schools is more than just a way to help alleviate crowding in elementary schools, MCS Superintendent Robby Parker said. “That’s not our motivation,” Parker told the committee. “It will help our overcrowding in elementary, but the main reason for it is it will give the kids better opportunities in electives, academic advancement, social benefits and other advantages.

Dr. Heather Donaldson, MCS Chief Academic Officer, is leading the transition team. “She led the inaugural meeting with a ‘sky’s-the-limit’ charge to brainstorm ideas that will prove the best benefit,” Peck said. The team will form subcommittees and recommend actions for curriculum, behavioral support, acceleration, assessments and extracurricular options like band.

In March, Madison Board of Education approved the new grade configuration. The board conducted multiple work sessions and internal meetings for architectural and construction plans to equip middle schools for the addition of sixth grade.

Tentatively, renovation plans call for Liberty Middle School to receive additional classrooms and expanded cafeteria and gym. Discovery Middle School is larger because it was Bob Jones High School’s facility before 1996.

After moving to middle schools, sixth-graders will gain access to more course offerings and build helpful relationships between faculty and students. Students will have more flexibility in enrolling in courses that interest them.

Discovery Principal Kimberly Stewart and Liberty Principal Shannon Brown are co-chairing the transition team. As plans progress, public input meetings and website posts will inform the public.

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