Parents and Teachers React to LISD Grade Reconfiguration - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/22/04

Parents and Teachers React to LISD Grade Reconfiguration

NewsChannel 11 learned Thursday there are two main reasons for changing LISD's current grade configurations.

  1. Drop out rates. We're told that most students drop out of school between the eighth and ninth grades. It's a proven fact, putting ninth graders in high school and making extra-cirucular activities available sooner increases the odds of graduating. 
  2. There are state acountability issues. The new grade groupings will make it easier to track student's progress thus boosting state funding. 

LISD Votes To Move 9th Graders to High School
The LISD board voted Tuesday morning to make the move.
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NewsChannel 11 talked to parents, teachers and school board members alike. We found questions, concerns, but overwhelming support.

Rene Rodriguez, a 9th grade english teacher at Hutchinson Jr. High says, "As far as maturity level, they're ready to be there.  As far as work level, they can do it.  I know then can." 

Coach Rod, as the kids like to call Rodriguez, thinks the school board's decision to change grade grouping is a positive move for the district and more importantly ....the kids. "It's going to make them work a lot harder... because they have that goal in mind.  They have that goal of graduation."

Teri Holmes, a music teacher at Waters Elementary is happy about the extracurricular opportunities the changes will create.  "It's going to be so cool for students to start band in the sixth grade and go to high school band and march in 9th grade."

Holmes interest in the changes doesn't stop at her role as a teacher.  Her third grader and sixth grader will be among the first groups of students to deal with grade changes. Teri says, "I think a lot of it will be thought through ahead of time, so I'm not too worried." Teri is right. The school board isn't planning to put changes into place immediatley.  They want time to avoid potential problems.  

One conern parents have already is this: the first group of kids to transition won't get the special banquets and perks that come along with being an upperclassmen in sixth and ninth grades.  Instead, they immediately graduate back to the underdog. 

Board Member Karen Slay says, "That group that transitions first is going to be in a quandry for a while, but we're going to take care of them and make sure they get their special attention."  Slay is the parent of a current sixth grader herself. Her son will be one of the first to go into ninth grade as a high schooler. "It dawned on me, my child is in there. But it's a good thing because I'm not asking people to do things I'm not willing to do myself."

There is some fear among teachers about what changes will mean for their jobs. For example, some are worried they might not like moving to the middle school or high school setting if necessary. Also, some teachers aren't certified to teach ninth grade at the high school level... only the junior high level. However, they can rest assured the board has thought about those things. Just another reason most board members want a couple years to deal with those concerns before any changes take place.

So, how are the city's high schools and middle schools going to make room for the extra students? Board members plan to ask taxpayers to approve a bond package in the fall that could total between $75 million and $150 million. A bond committee is being formed to look at the numbers. 

NewsChannel 11 is told the money will be spent on additions for high schools to accommodate ninth graders, two new elementary schools in northwest and South Lubbock, and new technology and building repairs.

So why build two new elementary schools when LISD closed three schools several years ago? KCBD asked the school board that question. They say the new schools are needed because Lubbock's growth is in other parts of the city, not in the areas where the schools were closed.

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