Meeting to discuss grade realignment

MANISTEE — Officials from the Manistee Area Public Schools will be holding an informational meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday in the media center at Kennedy

On Monday evening at 7 p.m. at Kennedy Elementary School the new grade alignment will be discussed by school officials.

On Monday evening at 7 p.m. at Kennedy Elementary School the new grade alignment will be discussed by school officials.

Elementary School to discuss a proposed grade realignment for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.

Superintendent Ron Stoneman said the plan is something administrators, staff and board of education members have been discussing for some time. They feel the changes will give students better educational opportunities as them move forward into the future as a district.

“After careful review of current physical infrastructure and student enrollment trends over the past three years, the following district school building configuration is recommended for the 2017-18 school year,” said Stoneman. “As challenging as we understand changes can be, please know that we have made this decision based upon a long-term plan that will best serve the future of MAPS and the students and families we serve.”

The new alignment that is being looked at being in place for the next school year is as follows:

* Madison Elementary: Pre-kindergarten;

* Jefferson Elementary: Kindergarten through second grade; and

* Kennedy Elementary: Third grade through fifth grade.

Manistee Middle/High School: 

* Middle School: Sixth grade through eighth grade;

* High School: Ninth grade through 12th grade.

School officials point to numerous benefits they feel will come out of this restructuring process. They include:

* Capitalize on the amenities and capacity of each district building;

* Grade divisions allowing students to benefit from age defined peer groups;

* Focused programming for a rich elementary experience for K-5 learners;

* Provide sixth graders with early access to expansive learning resources and extracurricular activities providing improved career and college preparation;

* Natural separation of middle school students and high school students by classroom location and schedule;

* Alignment of current grade divisions based upon national trend;

* Provide additional resources for incoming students and home school families at Madison Elementary;

* Strategic staffing plan to align with enrollment, no layoffs required; and

* Transition plan can occur without any requirement of classroom sharing or crowding.

Stoneman said when the current school year ends the process will begin make the switch over the summer months.

“The physical transition is to occur at the completion of this school year in preparation for the start of the 2017-18 school year,” said Stoneman. “We want all our parents and students to be excited for the coming school year and the opportunities change will bring.”

Stoneman said that is why they want to explain the process to all interested parties at Monday’s meeting. What they plan to discuss that night with those attending is the following:

* Become familiar with building layout and classroom alignment;

* Gain understanding about scheduling in each building (lunches, busing and any other issues);

* Review the increased academic and extracurricular offerings; and

* Address any misconceptions about current planning and programming.

Stoneman said he hopes the meeting will set the record straight on what is planned in the realignment.

“Our focus remains on delivering an educational environment which focuses on safety, instructional programming, and diversity of experiences for all students at MAPS,” said Stoneman.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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