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I am writing in response to those who have suggested that the solution to our district's space needs is to move 6th graders back to elementary schools. The 6th grade was moved to the middle school three years ago for clear academic, social and developmental reasons. In today's world, 6th graders need to master a rigorous curriculum based upon a rapidly expanding body of knowledge. Sixth graders at Weber receive their core instruction from two teacher teams. The team approach allows one teacher to focus on English/social studies while the other specializes in math/science so that each can offer our children more content area expertise than would be possible for one teacher alone. In addition to being a better approach academically, the two teacher team allows our students to adjust gradually to being in the "big school." They go from a self-contained classroom in elementary school to a two teacher team in 6th grade at middle school and from there to the four teacher core model (English, social studies, math and science) that is used for the seventh and eighth grades. The children no longer have the abrupt transition in 7th grade from a small, familiar school to a new, larger one and from a self-contained environment to a departmentalized one at the same time.

Other academic benefits include the foreign language for all 6th graders at the middle school. The cost of providing a similar program with itinerant teachers in the elementary schools would be extremely high, possibly prohibitive. A very large percentage of children participate in our award winning performing arts program. While our instruction in this area is excellent at both elementary and middle levels, the 6th graders are clearly more challenged as the youngest students in the middle school band, chorus or orchestra than as the oldest students in the elementary school groups.

There has been no evidence provided to either the board of education or the community that moving the 6th graders back to the elementary school would provide an adequate solution to our space problem at a significantly lower dollar cost. The educational cost of this approach to our children, however, is clear. If we sacrifice our children's education for illusory cost savings, both the children and the taxpayer will lose.

Sandra Ehrlich


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