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K6 Transition Message From Supt. Davalos

I want to thank cabinet, directors, principals and teachers for all the work and effort that has gone into this huge adjustment to reorganize our elementary approach to a K-6 model.  The following summary is intended to identify the last and final steps we will take to become ready to open a new school year under this new configuration.  Our two new schools are looking amazing and weekly planning is scheduled to make sure all questions are answered and every preparation has been completed. This week we are adding, to our website, a K-6 Resource Center  where all documents and information is made public.  

Boundaries are set and teachers have been assigned to the five K-6 schools.  That information is on, or will be on, the website.  The public has means to find their school and see what teachers are teaching their child’s grade next year.  Movers are also using the same information to plan the moves.  Information for staff about the moves will also be communicated directly before having those memos housed in the Reference Center.

The final major steps in this transition have been conversations and preparations for over a year.  There are many smaller activities but these majors are important to all and need to be completed and finalized before summer comes.  The one major exception will be in finalizing bus route times and locations that usually are communicated in the summer.  Here is a summary of the final major changes and preparations for K-6.

 Elementary Music

This proposed adjustment to grades 5/6 music scheduling comes after several years of discussion and review.  I believe that this is the right time and right change to make on the behalf of student learning.  Years ago CSD leaders made a decision to add music to the day and require all 5/6 students to choose between band, strings and choir.  Music instruction is well researched and has a strong rationale for improving student learning.  I am not making a change that will end the access to music instruction 5/6.  Our schools are short of instructional time and our rules require certain elective offerings as state law.  The state requirements are made harder with the need to help struggling learners with additional instruction and support.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in each day.  Our music program currently pulls 5/6 students from class for ½ hour daily.  They also are pulled for PE and other electives for a total of 9 half hour sections weekly.  Our primary grades only schedule five half hour electives per week. Those two extra hours need to be re-thought.

One plan submitted last fall was to duplicate the same program at all five elementary schools.  The additional costs for staff and equipment would be well over $400K.  The duplication would offer band, strings and choir at each school with groups coming together only for a district performance. To get PE and other electives this model would have 5/6 teachers having more prep spots during each week.

Another plan is to move 5/6 band, strings and choir to after school programs for all 5/6 students who choose to participate.  They will be collected at each school 15 min. before the bell twice per week and delivered to one elementary school for two one hour sections of instruction.  They will then be bussed back home to their boundary drop locations as we do with afterschool program students now.  The program will reduce from 2.5 hours to two hours but I am certain our instructors can keep up the quality of experience and performance. Recruiting would start before the year ends and continue once it begins.  We would monitor the effect of the change and report our findings in the fall.

After meeting with staff and listening to community feedback, the plan continues to be debated until an accepted change can be developed.  Additional discussion and notice will be forthcoming.

In conclusion, these three adjustments are necessary to finishing the K-6 transition and are expected to have a positive impact on schools and students alike.  The final steps signal how close we are to the new configuration and the opening of our new buildings.