MPS votes to consolidate junior, high schools

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A plan is now in motion to consolidate junior high and high schools throughout Montgomery.

"This is not a new concept that is coming to the forefront here," said MPS superintendent Barbara Thompson.

Right now, all but two of high school--Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee--house grades 9 through 12.

An approved proposal from superintendent Barbara Thompson changes that and makes all existing junior high schools into 6 thru 8 grade middle schools.

"Those 9th graders are going to be at the high schools. They really belong at the high schools. 6th thru 8th really is a much better developmental configuration in terms of kids who are similar, in terms of socially and emotional," Thompson said.

Parents aren't so sure, worried the move would cost money and hurt their child's education.

"This is an 11 year old," said Angie Williams of Montgomery, pointing to her daughter.

"I do not want her socializing, hanging out, with 14 and 15 year olds."

Some soon to be 9th graders want to stay in junior high.

"I think the 9th grade should stay back to give the kids one more year to mature," said 8th grader Truett Williams.

Still, Thompson says the goal is to prepare students to graduate, and right now, 10th thru 12th grade schools just aren't getting the job done.

"[Some students are] bombing 9th grade. They're losing it. Their GPAs are just so low that when you try to catch them up, it doesn't make a lot of sense to them," Thompson said.

The proposal, approved Tuesday, won't take effect system wide just yet.

Bellingrath School will act as the pilot school.  After redistricting, Thompson says the program would go system wide in 2011.

Superintendent Thompson pulled from the agenda a plan to reduce system staff levels by close to 300 people.

The measure should come up in a special meeting soon.

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