The Central Kitsap School District’s decision to move ninth graders to high school next year has raised plenty of questions by those impacted.
Will the school day be extended due to more crowding and need for a longer passing period? How will tutoring support be impacted? Will there be more lunch sections added? How will electives be impacted?
On Tuesday, the district hosted a community forum for concerned parents, staffers and students regarding moving the students up to high schools for the 2014-2015 school year. About a dozen parents and staff attended the forum, led by Franklyn MacKenzie, CK’s director of secondary education, since interim superintendent Hazel Bauman was out sick. Over the next few months, staffers plan to gather and make mock master schedules and talk in-depth about the impact on the district overall.
“This idea of ninth graders moving up is not a new idea,” MacKenzie told the group. A survey completed a few years ago indicated that 76 percent surveyed in the community thought moving ninth graders would be best for the school district.
Due to declining enrollment, the time to move ninth graders became a possibility sooner than originally planned. The transition still could be held off for another year, according to David McVicker, director of business and operations. McVicker said the district should have an answer by December or January on if the transition can happen next September.
MacKenzie noted that Bauman said she felt with the response she was hearing from the community and the declining enrollment was reason enough to start moving the students to the high schools sooner. On Sept. 25, the board members voted unanimously to move the students from the three middle schools to two high schools, Central Kitsap and Olympic. Klahowya Secondary School will remain seventh through twelfth. Sixth graders will not be moved, but the discussion will happen shortly for what to do with the grade level.
With more crowded high schools and less-full middle schools, space is a point of concern for district staff just as much as it is for parents, MacKenzie said. Central Kitsap High School is already known for being crowded, but by moving portables into the parking lot — as it was years ago — the crowding will be alleviated if some are walking outside of the building, he said. That plausible change could also impact an already-challenging parking situation for students and staff. Students may also have to share lockers, but with the transition the district is trying to make to e-books, it may not be a concern shortly, MacKenzie said.
The empty space in the middle schools be repurposed. One option MacKenzie suggested was two levels of sixth grade classes — parents could choose to send their student off to junior high or keep them in elementary school for one more year.
Other parent concerns included if counselors would move with student to the high school. Some wanted to know if challenging classes would be available for lower grades once ninth graders melded into the high school. MacKenzie said some concerns may not have answers until the district works out all the quirks of the new system.