By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Board members voted 5-0 Tuesday night at a meeting packed with an estimated 40 to 50 staff members and parents, District Superintendent Diana Reaume said.
School Board member Dave Dickson said parents and teachers brought up concerns about seventh- and eighth-grade students being supervised walking between the annex and the Forks High School cafeteria for lunch.
The reorganization will make room to expand preschool hours from 2.5 hours a day to six hours a day for the district's low-income preschool program and add benefits for other students.
Moving from half-day to full-day classes depends on state approval of a district application.
Reaume said she is confident it will be approved.
“We're pretty certain we'll get it, based on our demographic,” Reaume said, adding that the reorganization will move forward even if the application is not approved because of other expected student benefits.
Reaume said the district intends to have the changes in place by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
To inform parents about the reorganization, staff have planned a school building tour and informational meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Forks Elementary School, 301 S. Elderberry Ave.
Additional meetings are planned for the spring and summer.
“That was really important to the board, that [parents] can visualize it and see it,” Reaume said.
Under the planned realignment:
■ The preschool would move into four classrooms adjacent to the kindergarten wing at the Forks Elementary building, which would become Forks Primary School for students in preschool though third grade.
■ Fourth- and fifth-graders would move to the Forks Middle School building, which would become Forks Intermediate School for students in the fourth through sixth grade.
■ The seventh- and eighth-grade classes would move to six classrooms in “The Annex,” a mostly empty building between the middle and high school, which would become Forks Junior High School.
■ Several programs currently without adequate space — such as the occupational therapy program — would move into empty classrooms at the newly renamed Forks Primary School.
The total cost of the reorganization is expected to be between $77,000 and $101,000.
Reaume gave the following cost estimates:
■ Between $60,000 and $80,000 for a new playground for fourth- through sixth-graders.
■ About $11,000 for new smart boards for the “Annex” building, which will house seventh- and eighth-graders.
■ Between $6,000 and $10,000 in staff time for planning and executing the physical move.
District staff have said the planned reorganization was triggered in part by low reading scores among third-grade students and an impending state mandate for longer preschool days for low-income students.
“The goal [is] getting all of our third-graders on [their own] grade reading level by the end of third grade,” Reaume said.
“It will make the whole system better.”
The shift was also done in part over concerns about older middle school students' behavior and interactions with sixth-graders, district staff members have said.
The preschool now serves 54 students and is housed in two portable classrooms behind the main elementary school campus.
Kindergarten through fifth-grade students are now in Forks Elementary classrooms, while sixth through eighth grades attend Forks Middle School.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Arwyn Rice contributed to this report.