During its regularly scheduled meeting on October 21, the Merrill Area Public School Board will consider an administrative recommendation to move fifth grade out of its elementary schools and into Prairie River Middle School, starting with the 2014-2015 school year.
The recommendation is based on current space needs at Washington Elementary School and particularly at Jefferson Elementary School. In addition to improving school safety, the proposal would also make it possible to provide educational program enhancements for both elementary and middle school students. One of the reasons why the administrators supported this option is that unlike others that were considered, moving the fifth grade class does not require significant program changes or construction of additional space. The recommendation does not include the Maple Grove Charter School, which would continue to house classes from kindergarten through grade five.
“Over the last several months, MAPS administrators have considered various options to address overcrowding at Jefferson Elementary School and, to a lesser degree, at Washington Elementary, as well as to ensure that students at all grade levels have the kind of space that allows us to adopt a more modern curriculum,” said Walter Leipart, superintendent. “The recommendation made by the administration to move fifth grade to the middle school takes into consideration all students, and especially those who would be most impacted in the first year.”
After evaluating the proposal during their meeting on the 21st, board members will vote on the proposal. If the board votes to move the fifth grade classes to the middle school, a committee of parents and educators will be formed to address program enhancements, transition concerns, and other issues related to starting a fifth grade program at the middle school. If the board decides to keep the fifth graders at the elementary schools, space concerns will still need to be addressed.
“This is a major decision that will have a positive impact on our schools and students,” said Leipart. “As such, my colleagues and I are very interested in hearing parents’ and other community members’ opinions on this recommendation.”
Parents and other community members are asked to contact their local elementary school principal at the numbers provided below to talk or set up an appointment to meet in person. In addition, Gerald Beyer, Principal of Prairie River Middle School is available to answer questions and hear concerns, and can be reached at 715-536-9593. Finally, Superintendent of Schools Walter Leipart can be contacted at 715-536-4581. The proposal under consideration by the board was made unanimously by district administration.