5th grade to move to Wareham Middle School
The School Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to move the 5th grade students from both elementary schools to Wareham Middle School beginning next school year.
"The middle school has the space, it is our newest facility, and educationally, for students, we believe it is the best course of action," Superintendent Dr. Barry Rabinovitch said of the plan.
The move will ease overcrowding at the elementary schools. During a public hearing earlier this month, elementary principals Christine Panarese and Joan Seamans told parents that the use of unconventional spaces — including libraries and gymnasiums — for teaching and learning has become commonplace at both schools.
Wareham Middle Principal Howard Gilmore plans to have 5th- and 6th-grade students share one section of the school.
Fifth-grade students will eat lunch together, and rotate classes within one of three teaching "teams," in which they would participate in recess.
Specials — such as music, art, and reading and literacy will be offered. The students will go to gym class two days out of a six-day schedule rotation.
Parents expressed concerns about safety on the school buses at the recent public hearing, as the buses could be carrying middle- and high-school students. Rabinovitch said the district is willing to put a bus monitor on buses that will transport 5th-graders.
But on Wednesday, the School Committee delayed a vote on how to proceed with the district's busing operation, as it continues to explore how to provide the most services with the money the town is able to pay.
That decision may affect middle school students, but it was not immediately clear how. The School Committee will continue to discuss the options at future meetings.
The population of the middle school will be approximately 874 students with the 5th-grade class, lower than the 960 students housed there when the building was built.
Staff will move from the elementary schools, and class sizes will be between 23 and 24 students.
The move won't reduce class sizes or save the district any money. It will simply give some flexibility at the bursting-at-the-seams elementary schools, administrators have said.