Beloit School District did not take the appropriate time to study these issues, especially the ones in bold print. This reconfiguration is not something we can reverse. It may work and increase student achievement, but if it fails, we cannot return to our neighborhood schools. The question of where the new school on the east side will be built still remains. Busing and transportation issues cannot be addressed before that is resolved. Parental involvement may decrease with schools no longer being just down the street. How will behavior issues so typical at Aldrich and McNeel Middle Schools affect younger 4th grade students when they share one building?
These are issues typically studied by community groups long before a referendum is voted on. We had no such groups and many parents to this day are still unaware that, if this referendum passes, they will be losing their neighborhood school.
a resource from the school district website:
"Some factors to weigh and think about, many of them inter- related, include the following:
1. Will the configuration increase or decrease transportation costs? How far will students have to travel? This may be a more important issue in a community with a very dispersed population.
2. Will the configuration likely increase or decrease parent involvement? The proximity and size of the school may be factors, as well as the motivation and interest level of the parents.
3. How many students will be enrolled at each grade level and what implications does this have for course offerings and instructional grouping?
4. Are any data available that suggest whether the configuration might boost achievement scores for a significant portion of the community’s students or depress the performance of others? For instance, some studies suggest that some middle-level students—low socioeconomic background sixth-graders in Pennsylvania, and eighth-graders in Maine, a predominantly rural state—benefit significantly from an elementary rather than middle school setting (Becker, 1987; Wihry, Coladarci, & Meadow, 1992).
5. Will the configuration lead to the loss of a neighborhood school or the closing of other schools in the system?
6. How many points of transition and articulation will occur in the K-12 system? How will these be addressed? What mechanisms or channels of communication will be used to ensure that students move smoothly through the system, in terms of both academics and social and emotional adjustment?
7. Does the configuration allow for interaction between a range of age levels and a variety of grouping options? A school with more than one or two grade levels has the opportunity to increase the self-esteem and responsibility of older students by using them as tutors or mentors for younger students.
8. How will the presence or absence of older students affect younger students in a particular school? A school with few grade levels may benefit because older students are not present to model negative behaviors associated with their age group; on the other hand it may suffer from the lack of older role models for academic excellence and leadership.
9. Is the design of the school building(s) suited to managing students in the selected grade span? For instance, does it have several wings, useful for dividing a large middle school into “houses” or for keeping younger students in self-contained classrooms?
No particular sequence of grade spans is perfect or in itself guarantees student achievement and social adjustment. With thought and effort effective practices can be implemented in a variety of grade configurations. What is important—as seen in the following “Northwest Sampler”—is to be aware of the potential benefits and difficulties of different configurations and to make each configuration, whether it comes about from choice or necessity, work as well as possible for all students."