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Published: Thursday, 7/25/2002

Academy may add 7th grade


Her sixth-grade daughter's passing scores on all five proficiency tests are proof to Cyndy Meacham that Grove Patterson Academy worked. She applauds its challenging curriculum, longer school day, and parental involvement contracts.

Her only complaint? No seventh grade at Grove Patterson so her daughter could continue there.

This month, Toledo Public School officials will decide whether they will add a seventh grade to the academy.

A portable classroom unit, approved by the board this month, would make room for the 44 sixth graders who attended last year.

Principal Gretchen Bueter said she is in the process of contacting parents of last year's sixth graders to see if they remain interested in staying at the academy for seventh grade. About 25 of them in the spring said they wanted to stay, even with a portable unit, Ms. Bueter said.

Craig Cotner, the district's chief academic officer, said yesterday the district is waiting for a final count of students who would enroll before making a decision on adding the seventh grade. “I think we would have had all 44 if we had known this long ago,” Ms. Bueter said. “Many of them got very worried about not being able to have the continuation.”

Ms. Meacham was one of those. Her daughter will attend Maumee Valley Country Day in the fall - her second choice.

“We didn't have a decision in time and we had to make a decision,” she said. “It's awesome [if] the kids are going to be able to continue.”

Earlier this year the district explored opening an honors junior high academy at DeVilbiss High School. The option would have given Grove Patterson students a place to continue their current curriculum of the Success for All reading program and studies in Spanish and German.

It also could have relieved some of the overcrowding at other junior highs.

But the $2.9 million cost to renovate the site, hire staff, and purchase supplies was too high for the board, said Vice President Dave Welch. A “weakness” in the district's long-range planning also contributed, according to Mr. Welch.

“The ultimate goal was that we could have something in place early on so we could offer those parents an option before it was too late,” he said. “It's not like it just all of a sudden happened. There's been a lot of thought, a lot of time, and a lot of parental input into this.”

Ms. Bueter said she expected next week to have a final count of students who would attend if the seventh grade is added.

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