Stacy Bucyk, the district’s early childhood and special education director, said there would also be more room for special education classes, some of which are being held in hallways and converted storage rooms.
Some parents expressed concerns about fifth-graders being in the same school as eighth-graders.
“I don’t want (my son) to grow up too fast because he is exposed to older kids,” said Cole Street resident John Taylor.
Officials said the school would be designed with grades five and six in a lower school and grades seven and eight in an upper school. Schedules would be arranged so that the younger and older students are not often together in common areas like hallways and the cafeteria.
School Committee member Kris Silverstein said one middle school principal told her that the five-through-eight model actually keeps all the students “younger” because of the influence of the fifth- and sixth-graders.
The School Committee will make the final decision on the grade configuration, with a vote scheduled for Feb. 26.
Whatever decision is made, Mayor Mike Cahill said city and school officials will work with parents over the next three years on the many details involved in planning a new school.
Cahill said it would cost the city about $3.9 million more to build a middle school with fifth-graders. But he said that would be “significantly less” than the cost of building additions onto elementary schools to relieve the space crunch.
About 40 people attended last night’s forum. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Ayers Ryal Side Elementary School.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.