More comment on proposal to place Snohomish
sixth graders in middle schools
SNOHOMISH — Superintendent Kent Kultgen restated last week the school district is listening to viewpoints on its proposal to shift sixth graders from elementary school to middle school starting in 2025, which continues to get mixed views.
“We continue to revise as we move forward,” Kultgen said at last week’s school board meeting.
The school board will have the final say with a scheduled vote on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The next board meeting where more information may be outlined is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 14 starting at 6 p.m. at 1601 Ave. D.
Last week, more people spoke out about the idea.
Retired Cathcart Elementary principal Karl Myhre told the board not to enact the change.
“Sixth graders are not socially, emotionally or academically ready,” Myhre said. Younger students look up to the sixth graders, he said.
“There’s no way I would support this, I hope you can see where I’m coming from.” Band classes would be decimated, he said.
Parent Betsie Elliott called the idea of switching a “solution to a problem without the problem being defined” by the district.
“Why are we a month into this when there is only conjecture” and no data to show moving sixth graders is a good idea, she said.
Teacher Monica Weber, who ran for school board last year, gave her support.
“Sixth graders are more ready for middle school than ever, and I would not have said that 40 years ago,” Weber said.*
Kultgen has pitched that the change also broadens how many electives sixth graders can take, and will strengthen the culture inside middle schools if they are for three grade levels.
Many parents have voiced concerns sixth graders are not developmentally ready for middle school.
If the board votes yes for the plan Feb. 28, the district would use a steering committee to refine the plan. Parents, teachers and administrators are part of the steering committee. People can sign up for the committee through a district web page at www.sno.wednet.edu/interestform
The district also laid out how sixth graders would fit into Valley View and Centennial middle schools.
At three-story Valley View Middle School, each grade level would occupy one of the floors. There is enough room inside Valley View to accommodate adding about 300 sixth graders, district officials said, plus room to add 200 more students overall as the population grows.
Inside Centennial, the two-story school would have the classrooms arranged in sections of thirds. There would be a north wing, a central wing and a south wing.
Centennial would add 300 to 325 sixth graders, making the student population near 1,100 students. That would require adding three or four portables. These would be placed on the south end of the school’s property.
Currently, Valley View has 624 students and Centennial has 729 students, January enrollment figures show.
Lunch would be set by grade level.
The district also plans to revamp the parking lot layout at Centennial to fix entry and exit points for pick up and drop off.
There are no current plans to adjust school boundaries. Also, “there are no plans to close any elementary schools as part of this reconfiguration,” according to a district frequently asked questions list.
The district would add three counselors at each middle school. This would maintain a small counselor-to-student ratio.
A sixth grader’s day would be four core subjects, an elective and, for fall semester, the fifth period would be for P.E. For spring semester, the fifth period would be used for a class on skills-building.
Today’s fourth graders would be the initial group being bumped up to middle school in 2025. They entered first grade during the coronavirus pandemic where all learning was online.
More than one parent said they specifically bought a home in the Snohomish School District because it uses the K-6 model, unlike all nearby districts that are K-5.
A few parents have said if the district does anything, it should be a much longer timeline that affects classes that have not yet entered school versus students already in elementary school.
The district has a frequently asked questions web page about the idea at www.sno.wednet.edu/middleschool
In the Jan. 31 article on the Snohomish School District’s proposal to move sixth graders to middle schools, retired teacher Monica Weber said that “sixth graders are more ready for middle school than ever, and I would not have said that 40 years ago.” Weber was misquoted in the paper as saying “four years ago.” She also did not explicitly say students would get lengthier time for class projects.
The Tribune regrets the errors.
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