SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 27, 2014

School Committee chooses 5-8 model for new middle school

Unanimous vote by School Committee to include fifth-graders in new middle school

(Continued)

Cahill said the plan is to “keep our lower and upper school middle-school students separate whenever possible.”

One of the biggest reasons cited for the 5-to-8 model was the chance to free up space in the elementary schools. If fifth-graders stay in the elementary schools, Cahill said the city would likely have to build additions on three of the schools.

“That would take longer at a greater cost (than building a 5-to-8 middle school),” he said.

Cesa said building a larger middle school would free up space throughout the district for special education students who are now bused out of district due to a lack of space for programs. She said the district spends $1.2 million per year on special education transportation.

“We have too many special education students leaving the district because we don’t have space for them here,” Cesa said. “They’re Beverly kids, and they should go to a Beverly school.”

Committee members also said the move would open up more opportunities for fifth-graders in band, foreign language and athletics.

Silverstein and committee member Matthew Kavanagh both said the feedback they received from residents on the 5-to-8 model was “50-50.” Lorinda Visnick said she got “very little” feedback, but the feedback she did receive from her Ward 6 constituents was “almost unanimous” for the 5-to-8 model.

Kavanagh said the model will only work if the plan is executed properly.

“To move your young son or daughter out of elementary school is a difficult thing,” he said. “If we prepare well for that transition, it will work well. If we don’t, it won’t work well. It’s all in the execution.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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