Parents of children in the Chino Valley Unified School District voiced their concerns about student safety, fifth grade transition into middle school, and overcrowding in classrooms if the board approves a proposed reorganization to balance its budget.
The board and district administrators heard public comment about the proposal for reorganization during a meeting this past Thursday at Territorial Elementary School.
The board voted on the proposal, which calls for the transfer of all first through fourth grade students and faculty to Del Rio School, the addition of all fifth-grade students to Heritage Middle School (currently a sixth through eighth grade campus), and turning TES to an all kindergarten campus, Monday, March 4. The vote took place after the Review deadline (see results online at CVRnews.com).
All changes, if approved, would begin with the 2013-14 school year.
Superintendent Duane Howard told the audience that the relocation of all grades to a single campus would allow the schools to assign students from room to room and lower class sizes in most cases.
One budget suggestion from the audience was to possibly eliminate the all-day, free kindergarten program.
Assistant Superintendent Cindy Daniels said that the money the district receives from the state for the kindergarten program, along with issues that come from trying to collect for paid attendance programs similar to what was used in the past, outweigh the cost of maintaining the all-day free classes.
"Many of our students don't come to kindergarten at the same readiness level that you might expect," said Daniels. "We have years where 75 percent, and I am going to say that again, 75 percent of the children, who enter kindergarten cannot recognize the letters in their own name."
Daniels said that the all day free kindergarten is a major contributor to grade school success.
"By the end of kindergarten in the Chino Valley Unified School District 99.5 percent of our students are reading," said Daniels. "I can tell you, there are very few school districts in this state that have that kind of kindergarten success."
HMS principal Scott Muir, answering safety and developmental issues some parents raised about fifth grade students entering middle school, said he plans to place both the fifth and sixth grades in a separate wing of the campus, with gradual and supervised interaction with the seventh and eighth grades,
Many programs, including art, music, and athletics, that have recently been eliminated from the grade schools would now be available to fifth grade students through HMS, Muir said.
"We are discussing what will be best for our students so that we can make sure this is a comfortable area for those new students coming in," said Muir. "Giving them the programs that they haven't had, like PE, band, and sports, will give them some opportunities to grow."
Susan Clark, principal of DRS, said that she feels the separate kindergarten campus will allow greater concentration on the specific needs of the younger students.
"I know our kindergarten teachers are excited to have their own kinder center, where its controlled and focused just for the needs of kinder," said Clark. "It's going to be such a warm and cozy place. It will be like a private school, a kindergarten academy, for free."
Clark said, if the proposal is accepted, she plans to bring over the kindergarten periodically so the kids can get used to the DRS campus.
For more information visit www.chinovalley.schooldesk.net or call the CVUSD offices at 928-636-2458.