With growing enrollment and a desire to reduce traveling time to middle schools across town, the Redwood City Elementary School District Board of Trustees has moved to make Taft Elementary School a K-8 school.
The school, which is currently K-5, will add one grade per year starting this coming school year to fill out a middle school by the 2016-17 school year.
“I’m so happy to bring this proposal to you tonight,” Superintendent Jan Christensen said Wednesday night before the item was unanimously approved. “Parents have requested that for several years.”
A 2012 districtwide survey showed 61 percent of families in the district prefer a K-8 configuration. In the 2011-12 school year, a Grade Configuration, Enrollment and Schools of Choice Committee comprised of parents, staff and community members formed to analyze and recommend potential changes to deal with a number of issues at that time, including demand for the four schools of choice without neighborhood boundaries — Adelante Elementary, McKinley Institute of Technology (MIT), North Star Academy and Orion Alternative School — exceeds the number of seats available, according to a staff report.
“I’ve personally been hearing from parents and staff who’ve wanted it to go to K-8,” said Trustee Alisa MacAvoy. “I’m all for it.”
Trustee Shelly Masur agreed the change is the right thing to do.
The committee’s report made the following points about the reasons for considering a K-8 configuration for Taft — Hoover and Garfield offered the only middle school option east of El Camino Real at that time. Now, Connect Charter School is offering some middle school seats. Demographic data showed that a large number of middle school students who live east of El Camino Real travel across town to attend Kennedy or MIT — 143 sixth- through eighth-graders who lived in the Taft boundary in 2012 attended Kennedy and 70 attended MIT. In addition, 124 Fair Oaks students attended Kennedy and 52 Hoover students attended Kennedy, according to the report.
Since that time, Taft Principal Robyn Miller has been working with Taft parents to assess the interest in this change. According to the school, families have requested this for years and a recent survey shows very strong support for the change. Research has shown that students lose less ground educationally when they do not move schools, according to the report.
“I’m confident families in our school want this and it’s the direction we should be going,” Miller said.
Still, adding a sixth-grade to Taft will result in the loss of two teaching positions at Kennedy in the 2014-15 school year.
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