Miamisburg weighs restructuring schools by grade level

District considers grouping grades 1-2 and 3-5 together, plus single kindergarten site, among other ideas

The Miamisburg school district’s first in a series of town hall meetings unveiled three new ideas the district could implement starting next school year to deal with enrollment imbalances and other issues.

Superintendent Laura Blessing presented the ideas to the several dozen people who showed up at Bauer Elementary on Wednesday night.

“Idea One allows us to bring all of our (kindergarten) students together into a kindergarten village in one location, and then the other six buildings would be (grades) one through five to help free up some classroom space for our growing residential enrollments,” Blessing said.

She said the second idea would again have one kindergarten building for all. But this time all of the district’s first- and second-graders would be put together in three schools, and all third- through fifth-graders would be together in three other schools “to create more efficient space and staffing.”

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The third idea, she said, involves grades K to five and “a complete redistrict to help those enrollment areas that are getting new development and help equalize class size and plan for future development.”

Miamisburg schools will present its plans again at seven more town halls, three of them in January and four in February. The board of education, which discussed the ideas during public work sessions late last year and this month, was slated to discuss them further at a board meeting Thursday night and again Feb. 16.

“We’re combining all of the comments from this evening and input and then we’ll be kind of taking that data at the end of our town hall tour and putting it to a test to the goals that we hope to achieve and the feasibility of each one of those,” she said.

The board should make a decision in early March about what programming will look like for next school year, Blessing said.

The proposed ideas aim to address an effective way to offer full-day and half-day kindergarten, create a collaborative preschool configuration model, equalize class sizes and increase support services for counseling, social work and nursing services, according to the district. The changes also aim to address an effective way to provide opportunities for teachers on assignments or as lead teachers, to seek additional Title 1 funding opportunities at schools not currently receiving it, and to plan for new residential housing growth.

That includes a variety of new developments under construction within the district’s borders, including Aberdeen, Chamberlain, Deer Park, Patriot Place, Rivendell, Redwood Apartments and Austin Commons. Those developments are expected to bring hundreds of new residents into the area over the next several years, Blessing said.

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Also a challenge is class size disparities.

“The present configuration of elementary grade levels creates disparities in class size due to dispersing students in each grade level across seven schools, lowering rates of enrollment across the state and pockets of new development,” the district said in the presentation.

Katie McVey, who has children in eighth and sixth grade, plus twins in second grade, was among the several dozen people who attended Wednesday’s town hall. She said she wasn’t leaning in any certain direction just yet and was “trying to take it all in and process it.”

“I’ll probably talk to some of my friends and have a good conversation about where they think will be the best benefit for all the kids,” she said.

McVey said she appreciates the Miamisburg school district holding town hall meetings before they make a potential decision.

“They’re reaching out to all the schools and covering all their bases, their clientele, if you will, and I think that’s very responsible of them to take our feedback, and they’ve done it very graciously, I thought,” she said.

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Heather Molnar, who has children in sixth grade and kindergarten, also praised Blessing and the district for the town hall approach.

Molnar said that after hearing the three options, she was leaning more toward the first and second one.

“I think it would be really hard on our teachers and our students to have split classes and in the third option, they’re looking at split classes where you would have two grade levels in the same classroom and a teacher trying to teach both classes,” she said. “I think trying to hit the ... target set by the state for education purposes for each of those grades, I think that’s a lot to take on.”

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