Oregon plans reconfiguring two middle schools


Oregon's two middle schools -- Eisenhower and Fassett -- would become intermediate and junior high schools, respectively, if the Board of Education goes forward with the superintendent's plan to reconfigure grades five through eight in an effort to improve educational attainment.

The superintendent, Michael Zalar, disclosed the details of his plan today at a special board meeting/community forum, to an audience of about 50 in the Clay High School media center. He emphasized that it was a work in progress and subject to change.

Under the plan, Eisenhower would house the fifth and sixth grades and Fassett would hold grades seven and eight. The grade reconfiguration is intended to address underperformance in grades five through eight, where math and science scores have been lagging in state assessment tests.

Currently, three elementary schools house kindergarten through fifth grades, and the two middle schools have the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. 

"Our kids have struggled at that fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade level," he said, adding that most high-achieving Ohio districts have fifth and sixth graders in their own buildings. This is considered to be more developmentally age appropriate for them than lumping them together with older students.

He calculated the change would increase the district's operating budget by $551,554 per year, but stressed that the school system could afford the cost without cutting programs or asking for more tax revenue. He said the district could save $107,000 through belt-tightening and another $262,780 through staffing adjustments, and projected its allocation of state casino money would be $204,225 next school year, when the reconfiguration would take effect.

The intermediate school and junior high students would receive an additional 20 minutes of math instruction per day, the superintendent said. Eisenhower's student body would increase to 552 from its current 438, while Fassett would house 604 students, compared to 474 today.

Both buildings could comfortably accommodate the larger enrollments, he said. He asked the board to take action on the proposal at its Dec. 18 meeting.