School's out

DuBois Area Middle School students are shown leaving school Thursday afternoon. The DuBois Area School District is considering moving fifth-graders to the middle school.

DuBOIS — DuBois Area School District administrators were pleased with the turnout at this week’s “Tour and Explore” at the middle school.

“The turnout was remarkable with 119 families in attendance. Most families had between three and four people, so we had between 350-475 people,” said Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton, noting that many were children.

Middle school Principal Darren Hack agreed.

“It was an excellent turnout, more than we expected, but we were ready for them,” Hack said. “We were really glad that many people came, especially the potential students who could see where their learning spaces may be.”

Instead of a presentation by the administration, the families engaged in a self-guided scavenger hunt where they located various classrooms throughout what could possibly be the fifth grade area of the building,” Benton said.

Those who attended took a self-guided tour of the school including the areas where grade five could potentially be located. Currently, the middle school includes grades 6-8.

“We heard a lot of positive comments about how nice the building is. We have a beautiful facility,” Hack said.

Benton said she received a few questions from one parent, including:

  • What will be the class sizes?
  • Are there any other middle schools with a 5-8 configuration?
  • If recess is not an option, how can physical activity be included into the school day?
  • Are there any extracurricular after school options for students in fifth grade?

“The parent also expressed concern with 5-12 busing,” Benton said. “The parent was not aware that our elementary afternoon bus routes currently consist of K-12 students whereas Jeff Tech students have always utilized the elementary buses for transportation home.”

Regarding the class size question, Benton said the administration doesn’t have the sizes finalized yet but she is hoping to have “actual numbers” early next week.

The district is currently evaluating all facilities to determine areas in need of capital improvements.

In previously published Courier-Express articles, administrators have stated that the middle school currently has an abundance of space available that could be utilized by fifth-grade students. In addition, a significant amount of space is available to enhance the quality of educational programs that currently exist for all students at DAMS. As a result, grade reconfiguration is an area which must be explored. This will help to ensure that all available learning spaces throughout the district are effectively utilized so that quality learning opportunities are provided for all students.

According to the administration, no decision has been made to date as to whether the board is planning an official vote to move grade five from the four remaining elementary schools. Additional information will be shared at the 7 p.m. Jan. 18 board work session at the Administrative Center on Liberty Boulevard.

“In my upcoming presentation, I plan to share an increase to physical education as well as the implementation of Drums Alive and Team incentives to compensate for the lack of ‘recess,’” Benton said.

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