Configuration FAQs

Do we really need the additional space at the elementary schools?

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It is important to note that even though some of our elementary schools have room for their current enrollment, we now use four trailers to serve the needs of seven classrooms. Three of the four trailers are very old and do not have appropriate insulation, lighting, and heating systems. In addition, electrical and other infrastructure elements in all of the buildings are strained for their current populations. Reducing the number of students in the buildings will provide some relief and also will provide space to grow.

There is a need for additional K-Plus programming in the district. Each year, multiple families are denied the opportunity because of current space limitations. Additional space in each school would provide this needed programming in the student’s home school without bussing to different buildings as is done now.

Individual school information is included below:

  • West Park currently utilizes all of the available spaces. Some of these shifts of space usage have been due to resolving issues noted on safety inspections. One example is moving some people or programs that had people housed in closets into shared classroom space.
  • McDonald currently is completely out of space and desperate for more. McDonald should have three classrooms at each grade level from kindergarten to sixth grade, but there is only room for three classes in each grade level up to fifth grade. In sixth grade only two classrooms are available this year. Unfortunately, this situation of being short a classroom results in the need to turn away some students (even hard-zone students) who have been McDonald Ducks since kindergarten. Each and every year we need to eliminate a class at one grade, and this is very difficult on students, their families, and the staff. Incidentally, one of our classrooms is not in the regular building–it is housed in a very dated modular. In terms of enough space for special needs and gifted/talented students, we have developed available spaces into mini-classrooms that were initially designed to be closets or offices. We have students working in every nook and cranny in the halls, doorways, etc. when they need additional help. The small spaces we create are crowded and without windows.
  • This is a very broad topic at J. Russell Elementary as space is a commodity that depends on the area in which it is being addressed. Outdoor space for anything other than short recess times is inadequate and this space is also ”hard” space, most of it is covered by asphalt. Classroom space is adequate with housing for up to 220-230 students, special education, specialists, and other areas, but that leaves no space for a computer lab, GT, and possibly other needed classes. Our library space is small. Our gym is barely adequate for a whole class. We cannot house students with physical disabilities that require an elevator. Disability access is limited to use of the front door and only those rooms on the main floor.
  • Lena Whitmore has adequate space for all regular education, special education, and g/t classes, kindergarten through sixth grade. There are two classes of each grade level, K-6. As far as a K+ Program at Lena we currently do not have the space available to house it.

How do you plan to accommodate the needs of 6th grade students struggling in the areas of reading and math knowing that some of our students now receive Title I support?

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It is correct that the Junior High School (JHS) does not currently qualify for Title I services, However, there is always a possibility that any school can qualify and this is determined annually each spring. We have 6th grade students every year who receive Title I services at three of our elementary schools, who go on to the JHS and do not receive Title I services there, but who are able to do well academically for a number of reasons:

  1. The JHS has a very effective screening process to identify students who are struggling in specific academic areas. After being screened, students who are identified as needing extra support in Math & Reading are placed into classes that meet their needs. This process will continue to remain in place for students entering 6th grade if the JHS would shift to a 6-8 grade configuration.
  2. As needed, students receive extra support through the JHS’ Language! program which addresses Reading and Language Usage skills. The JHS also provides before and after school study/help sessions, tutorial classes, and the Access period. Having seven to eight 6th grade teachers in the same building would also allow for multiple opportunities for differentiation in all academic areas. Classes in 7th and 8th grade for math have multiple levels to assist all students.
  3. The JHS has a very strong and highly qualified teaching staff. All of the teachers are committed to meeting all students’ needs regardless of the classroom.
  4. Our teachers who currently teach at the 6th grade level are familiar with teaching the 6th grade curriculum and are able to effectively adapt it to accommodate for the needs of all learners. Those teachers who move to the JHS will continue such efforts there.
  5. JHS students who struggle in the areas of reading and math are already monitored regularly and that process will continue as well.
  6. Principal Kevin Hill’s plan is to incorporate teams back into the middle level. All teachers (6th, 7th, 8th) would have a common planning time which would allow for student meetings, team activities, and individualized discussions regarding student progress.

How will you adjust for the music electives at the junior high school and high school?

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MJHS would redesign the level of our elective programs to meet a 6-8 model, but that would not require extra staffing. It might look slightly different, but each grade level would still have similar opportunities. We do not expect an increase in staffing needs to serve students in this model. Moscow High School will continue to offer and have courses based upon student enrollment. This will include the elective areas. All decisions are made based upon the registration process. Student interest drives the master schedule at MHS. While it is certainly complicated through high school redesign, a new bell schedule and additional credit requirements, moving to a 9-12 grade configuration only eases the complications and expands opportunity for all high school students.

What about the need for additional counselors, special education teachers, GT teachers, and support staff?

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The number of students in the JH building would be similar to our current enrollment. I do not expect an increase in staffing and we have worked under the guideline that there would be no additional FTE in the secondary setting.

Moscow High School as a 9-12 grade school will be able to meet the high school specific needs of the student body far more effectively through having the freshmen on the same campus. All high school students will benefit by moving these students to the high school campus. It is an educationally sound decision and the staffing needed to have this happen will be done through existing district FTE.

What about parking at the current MHS site? Where will the additional students and staff park?

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No student parks on campus. All students who drive to school park in the community at street parking locations, and this will remain the case. We currently have enough parking for our existing staff and faculty, and we would have a shortage of parking slots available upon becoming a 9-12 grade school. We plan to work with the city and county to attempt to gain parking slots to solve this issue.

Many different teaching models exist in middle level schools throughout our country. How will the model be set up in our current JH building for 6-7-8 grade students.

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We would have grade levels assigned to common teams and common areas of the building. We would block grade levels into common lunches and Physical Education Classes, as well as common elective classes at the 6th grade level. This would allow all three grade levels to be assigned to teams with common core teachers. It also allows core teachers on each team to have common preparation periods. This would provide us the opportunity to expand current projects already taking place at MJHS.

What are your plans for the “Highly Qualified” teacher requirements needed at the 6 – 12 level? Many of our current 6th grade teachers do not have separate subject area endorsements. At all three elementary schools the 6th grade teachers do some sharing of subject area teaching. Will they have to give that up and teach all subject areas to their own homeroom class?

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We envision 6th grade remaining as a self-contained classroom setting very similar to its current setting in the elementary buildings. This would allow all 6th grade teachers to design instruction to meet the needs of all students in that grade level. We would run a two in one school setting, meaning that 7th-8th will require a single subject endorsement, 6th grade would require a K-8 Elementary Specialist. Their highly qualified status as 6th grade teachers at elementary schools will continue with their placement at a middle school and will not affect the opportunities to exchange students for certain subjects, just as they do now.

Budget cuts in recent years eliminated the teaming that was such a positive aspect of our JHS. If 6th grade is kept at the elementary schools, they will continue to have the equivalent of teaming. Will the 6th graders have that same level of teaming at the JHS, or will it be the same as the current 7th & 8th grade with no consistent teachers for a given set of students?

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The plans that we are putting forward all contain teams at all grade levels 6-8.

The elective choices available for 6th graders at the JHS are a nice bonus over what they currently have at the elementary schools. But what about state standards for PE and Music? Will you be able to accommodate those? How will you staff it?

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We currently meet all state standards for all areas and grade levels with our current staffing in the district and would continue to meet all state standards in any configuration chosen.

What about school sports? Will 6th graders have the option of participating in sports activities? How will you staff that additional need and what will it cost the district?

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We would maintain current 6th grade sports (track meet) that are offered and allow 6th grade students to take part in a variety of intramural activities. We have an Activities Coordinator who would be in charge of coordinating the activities which would not require additional staff.

What about other activities such as future problem solvers, environmental club, etc. How will you staff the additional needs for those activities?

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We would strive to maintain all activities that are offered in the elementary setting for 6th grade students.

Why a 6-8 middle school? Moving our 6th graders to a middle school pushes them out of a more nurturing environment (nothing against middle school – elementary is a seen as a different stage of childhood than middle school and therefore handled differently) and one more year makes a difference academically and personally.

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The connotation between a Middle School setting and a Junior High setting is just as diverse. We would take every step to ensure that students are supported socially, emotionally, and academically.

Sixth graders are still kids with much emotional and social development ahead of them. They need time to be kids. They benefit from associating with kids younger than themselves as well as having the responsibility of being positive role models for others. At a K-6 elementary school, students interact with a small peer group with fewer outside influences and less peer pressure. How will you provide the same types of interaction for sixth graders when they are moved to a middle level setting?

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We are confident that we are able to meet the needs of 6th Grade students. We plan on keeping a close connection with the elementary schools and having 6th Grade students be leaders in a middle level school and interaction would be provided to still remain role models for the elementary.

Students in the sixth grade have many leadership opportunities in the elementary school setting. They chair in-school committees such as the Talent Show, Student Council, peer tutoring, and recycling, just to name a few. Will those opportunities be available in a middle level setting?

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We plan to maintain all supports and activities that are currently available to 6th Grade students. If the proposal moves forward and is accepted by the Board of Trustees, teachers, administrators, and parents would be involved to develop programming appropriate to each grade level.

Sixth grade students have opportunities for many family connections in the elementary school. Parents are actively involved in the elementary schools, which gives teachers and parents time to connect and meet the needs of each student. There are first-sixth grade buddy program where the sixth graders teach, play, read, share, etc. with their first grade buddies on a weekly basis. This is a positive interaction for both age groups. Families get together to celebrate together, including our Christmas concert and at the track meet. How will this opportunity be continued in a middle level setting?

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We are confident that we will be able to meet the needs of 6th Grade students. We plan on keeping a close connection with the elementary schools and having 6th Grade students be leaders in this building and role models for the elementary. We completely understand the need to keep kids as kids. By keeping 6th grade as a self contained program, blocking PE classes, and having grade level electives as well as a common lunch, it is our belief that we can meet the needs of all of our 6th, 7th, and 8th students. We also plan to offer a well-rounded music education for all students that will include multiple opportunities for family and community involvement. At MJHS, we have classes that visit elementary schools, but we would like to increase our involvement working with elementary teachers and students. This would not be limited to 6th grade alone and we would also incorporate the Moscow Community into our plan. A school wide goal/focus for this building regardless of configuration is to increase community and parent involvement. Parents and community are essential to a positive school environment and promoting involvement helps establish quality traditions within the school.

The elementary setting for sixth graders allows them to grow emotionally and socially with loving support from a small staff of people they know very well. Some students have been here since kindergarten and know all the teachers and staff by name. We are all there for these students, and each of us can also hold them accountable by knowing them well and setting clear expectations for them.

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We plan to maintain all supports and activities that are currently available to 6th Grade students. Currently at MJHS, we offer multiple opportunities for leadership and involvement in activities. We have many ideas that are tentative, but we plan developing a community based program that will expand roles for all students. If our proposals become reality, we will meet with teachers, parents, and students to develop detailed plans that will meet the needs of all learners. MJHS is a community, and in a 6-8 configuration, we would design our sense of family to include everyone. We understand that a K-6 setting is different than a 6-8 setting and we are confident that we would be able to provide a supportive and enriched program to meet all students’ needs. It is our sincere hope that the individuals who currently support our students in the elementary setting would continue to be active in developing a quality setting for students in the middle level if a 6-8 school is recommended.

Will the 6th grade science camp continue in some form?

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Yes. Dependent on district and state funding there will be a science camp experience.

Will the 6th grade part of assemblies at JHS?

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Yes, the 6th grade students will become an integral part of a nurturing middle level culture whether it be assemblies or other important school-wide activities.

I am not aware of any empty classrooms, where do you propose to place the 9th grade teachers? Will they have to be roving teachers, using different classrooms each period?

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A thorough facility and classroom space analysis was completed long before a recommendation was made to move this project forward. This analysis made it quite clear that classroom space is more than adequate to house the incoming teachers and students. All teachers would have their own teaching environment. MHS currently has empty classrooms as well as classrooms which are only used a portion of the day. In addition, ability level classes are very common in the high school and would be of great benefit to 9th grade students. Many of these classes are not offered at MJHS at this time and 9th grade students would be able to take remediated and accelerated experiences along with other ability leveled students.

How will you accommodate the additional needs for Physical Education? That is an area that is already overstrained with the lack of facilities at the current location. Bussing PE classes is not cheap. How much more will bussing 9th graders for PE add to the cost?

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The gymnasium at Moscow High School is currently inadequate; this certainly will only become an additional area of concern. The Physical Education graduation requirement will have continued support, but it will no longer be a 9th grade requirement. In short, students will have the flexibility of completing this requirement during any of their four years on the MHS campus. We will continue to utilize district transportation to MSD owned property as well as using community facilities to have Physical Education take place. We are also adding an additional class period to the bell schedule and this will allow our Weight Room and Gymnasium to be available for an additional class period. The busing costs will increase, though it is impossible to determine as the number of course sections that students will mandate is not known at this time.

What about lunch at MHS? The current kitchen/lunchroom cannot accommodate the needs of students. Adding on another grade level will overstrain an already overstrained system. Will another 200 students have to eat downtown?

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The Moscow High School cafeteria is already inadequate. We will continue to have an open campus for lunch. We plan to utilize a satellite food service location on campus and provide additional seating for those who choose to eat lunch on campus.

How do you plan to accommodate a full grade level of science in an extremely outdated, ill equipped science wing?

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The Science laboratories at Moscow High School are outdated and inadequate, but it is not a space issue. We have one lab which sits idle and would be used for science instruction.

District enrollment is down, but do we really have space for the 9th graders at the current location?

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Over the past four years, district enrollment is down about 130 students at all grade levels. There is no “bubble grade” and for the first time, district-wide enrollment is markedly below 2300. In addition, the district has reduced staffing by attrition which aligns with reduced enrollment. Reduced staffing means that classrooms are available for teachers and students at the high school. It is also important to note that 9th grade students in a high school setting are able to take more than those courses designated “9th grade only”. Many courses at MHS are designed as ability-leveled courses instead of age leveled courses, which means that students can take courses along with other students of like ability level to fit their needs instead of having grade level only specific classrooms for 9th graders.

What will the physical moving costs be to move 6th and 9th grade teachers? When and how will the physical movement take place?

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Multiple teachers moved between buildings with their classrooms in 2002, and many lessons were learned from the move. The move was not staged correctly, it was done without planning, and there was not appropriate assistance for teachers who moved. We anticipate approximately 16 teachers who will need to move to a new building. It is anticipated that the teachers who will move to their new building will receive extra time after school releases in 2012 to pack and then extra time in the fall of 2012 before school begins to unpack. Extra packing/unpacking assistance for the teachers will be available and teacher rooms will be moved professionally during the summer and aligned with our summer cleaning process. Costs will be budgeted in two years over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year. The expense will be a one-time expense spread over two years that will be funded from the district’s plant and facilities budget. The administrators were directed to provide a plan that has no additional ongoing costs. This proposal stays within the guidelines and actually will reduce ongoing costs because of the reduction of travel for current teachers and other staff who have to move between buildings.

What will you do about the PE/Music/Elective positions? Will they have to travel between buildings to meet the needs of students?

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Finding a way to reduce the number of teachers who travel between buildings was a priority during the initial Feasibility Study. Currently, eight classroom teachers and multiple other counselors, psychologists, and other specialists move from building to building each day. Initial plans include a major reduction of roving teachers which will be a cost-savings to the district. Almost one complete teaching position is lost for every six teachers who have to move between buildings. All of our specialists are needed in each of our schools. A well-balanced education is one of the district’s cornerstones and current programming is crucial for our students. In addition, our district-wide School Improvement Plan will call on every teacher and specialist to assist with an added emphasis on achievement efforts for all children.

Are there other costs to the district such as personnel or added staffing?

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At the outset of the Feasibility Study, the administrators were directed to come up with a plan that did not add on-going expenses. No extra staffing is necessary and no extra ongoing personnel costs will be incurred. In fact, the district will save money by reducing the number of teachers who now move from building to building.

How will the District handle the change in services for Special Services personnel with one less class at each elementary school?

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As always, our special needs population will drive how staffing is allocated. Title I, Special Education, Gifted-Talented, and other support teachers will be allocated by student need as has been done in the past.

How will the District handle the change in services necessary for building aides, nutrition staff, and other non-certified personnel?

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Our support services staffing have always, and will continue to be allocated in the best manner possible to meet the needs of our student population. It will be necessary to review and re-define some staffing to provide the best service we can give. It is our intent to use the year ahead to plan with all components of our support staff to define and meet student needs in a responsible manner.

How would this impact West Park with the Kindergarten classes off campus? Would the kindergarten kids move to WP?

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Based on the following initial recommendation, it is of vital importance that parent and teacher input continue to be taken during the next 3 months in order to provide the best opportunity for all students and families while considering this configuration. Following additional time for input, the administration will make a final recommendation to the Superintendent to forward to the Board of Trustees in April.

After completing an analysis of multiple options, it became clear that a more robust teaming atmosphere is available for all students in grades K-5 with a K-2 setting all at the West Park campus and a 3-5 configuration at Russell School. If two K-5 schools were to be formed, one of the schools would have only one teacher for each grade level and attendance zone lines would have to be redrawn in the process. Currently students have three teachers per grade level and student learning is optimized through the three teachers teaming each and every day. Multiple teacher teaming expertise is a huge benefit to the students in the current configuration. In addition, classroom balancing is much better served when there are multiple classrooms in each grade level. A school with only one grade level classroom has a more defined space limit and students over and above that limit would be transferred to other district schools with room instead of remaining in the same school. It is also important to consider the cost of additional staffing needed in a configuration with two K-5 schools. Additional staff such as specialists, support personnel, and bussing would need to be provided along with the need to rezone the two elementary schools.

Has the Moscow School District considered changing the zoning areas to distribute elementary attendance more equally?

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The MSD is anxiously awaiting the official release of the recently completed census study to provide us with an up to date population distribution in our community. In addition, our trustee zones will be analyzed along with the attendance zone research. Following the official release of the census data, all of the regional school districts will work together to complete any rezoning necessary.