“Is it good for the kids?”
That was the question York City Schools Superintendent Deborah Wortham asked Wednesday while presenting a proposal to close two middle schools so the district can shift to a K-8 educational model. The proposal calls for adding grades 5 through 8 to the current K-4 elementary schools.
Wortham said she is convinced the K-8 model would be good for the district's middle school students, who would have an easier time transitioning into higher-grade levels by continuing to learn in buildings where they completed their elementary school years.
“Our educational system must meet our (students') needs,” she said. “With this model, students can attend school closer to home. Siblings (would be) enrolled in the same building. There's opportunity for learning and student leadership.”
Wortham gave a K-8 presentation during the York City school board meeting Wednesday night.
She said the idea originated last fall when community members came together to talk about ways to save money in the district, which is facing a $19 million deficit next year.
The board will receive more comments on the matter during a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the William Penn Senior High School cafeteria at 101 West College Ave.
The proposal: The board is considering closing Hannah Penn Middle School and Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School and converting Davis, Devers, Ferguson, Goode, Jackson and McKinley elementary schools into K-8 schools.
Under the proposal, Hannah Penn's 1,275 students would go to Goode, Davis and Jackson elementary school buildings.
Smith's 800 students would have their classes in Devers, Ferguson and McKinley elementary buildings.
The middle school class sizes would average roughly 25 students per classroom.
There would be separate entrances for middle school students, who also would use their own corridors to go to class, Wortham said at Wednesday's meeting.
She said the elementary schools could keep their names but be referred to as academies, like Jackson Learning Academy.
Mark Barnhardt, senior vice president of EI Associates — a Harrisburg-based architecture, engineering and planning firm, said he reviewed the elementary buildings' capacities, as well as the state Department of Education requirements.
His firm has concluded that each building has room for middle school students and for music, art and special education programs. There also is room for alternative-education and charter-school students if they were to return to district classes, Barnhardt said.
—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The York City school board will hold a public hearing on the proposal to close the district's middle schools and make its elementary schools K-8 at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the William Penn Senior High School cafeteria at 101 W. College Ave.