Committee works to make students more comfortable

Six years ago, Moffat County School District officials considered restructuring kindergarten through sixth-grade classes. Within a tight budget, combined grade levels and curriculum would cost less, and students' transition from grade to grade would be less stressful if they stayed in the same building.

The idea was dropped, but resurfaced in recent School Improvement Committee (SIC) meetings and a similar idea is being considered

During the Feb. 10 SIC meeting, Sunset Elementary School Principal Jim Rugh said the most important issue is not how and where the children are housed but how well students are educated. His presentation prompted a lengthy discussion about restructuring grade levels. Committee members decided the transitions between certain grade levels should be their focus.

Instead of focusing on having all students kindergarten through sixth-grade in one building, officials are looking at how well the transitions are made between grade levels, according to Moffat County School District Director of Curriculum and Staff Development Janet Bohart.

A key transition for students is going from the elementary schools to Craig Intermediate School (CIS), which houses fifth- and sixth-graders. The transition for a fourth-grader to go from an elementary school directly into CIS may be too much, too soon, according to some school officials.

The SIC will concentrate on how to improve transitions, Bohart said.

"The SIC realized its goal was worded wrong," she said. "It wasn't an issue of where the kids were housed but how comfortable they were."

CIS Principal Bruce Gregg, whose school spends "a lot of time and energy on transition activities," which includes a fifth-grade orientation before school begins in the fall, believes the SIC concern of transition will lead into a recommendation for age-appropriate activities within the school.

Age-appropriate activities include scheduling through all grade levels, which is another goal of the SIC.

Gregg does believe students will have anxiety during the transitions, with some students having possible academic and behavior problems.

SIC Secretary Jean Stetson said the SIC will evaluate current structures in the district with particular attention being paid to the transitions from fourth to fifth grade, sixth to seventh grade, and from eighth to ninth grade.

The committee will also make sure transitions between grade levels are appropriate for age levels involved. Stetson said the committee agreed curriculum is a key factor in education and its ultimate goal is to provide the best possible educational environment for students.

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