West Central School Board Considers Sixth Grade Transition Back to Elementary School

The West Central School Board members took time last week to discuss a possible move of the sixth grade from the Middle/High School back to the Elementary School.   

Superintendent Dan Zylstra said there are several points to be considered.

“A sixth grade self-contained class is a little more efficient personnel-wise than having it split up,” explained Zylstra.  “There’s something to be said for maintaining elementary kids up one more year, but you lose some of the diversity of course offering too.  Sixth graders are pretty big for Elementary School.  At some point they kind of size out of that.”

Elementary School Principal Mike Carlson said if the sixth grade were to return to the elementary school it would not impede on space. 

Middle/High School Principal Scott Ritchie said discipline is handled differently at his school where he believes sixth grade students aren’t ready for that environment. 

Ritchie commented, “What we expect out of our students there is a little different just because those guys are still small and still have a lot of energy bundled up inside of them.  At other times I don’t think it’s their fault, they’re just not ready for that environment of walking the hallways freely without somebody with them.”

He added that the lunch lines are very long which creates a problem.  Timing would accommodate the change at the Elementary School, if approved.

When it comes to staffing, Carlson added that he’s heard from at least one sixth grade teacher who wants to go back to the Elementary School while Ritchie said more teachers may want to stay at the Middle/High School. 

No decisions were made last week, but Zylstra indicated that the board may need to decide during their next meeting in February when the 2020-2021 school calendar is up for consideration.