Moving 9th grade to high school logistically complex
By Mallie Jane Kim
Three Village Central School District needs more time before restructuring the grade makeup of its buildings, according to Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon, who officially recommended a delay on proposed changes until the 2025-26 school year.
“It’s best we do this right and not fast,” Scanlon told the board at a Sept. 13 Board of Education meeting. He also followed up with an email to district parents explaining the delay.
The board previously charged the administration with researching the feasibility of a proposal to move up sixth grade to junior high and ninth grade to the high school, based on the preferences of a majority of stakeholders in the community surveyed last year.
At the meeting, Scanlon said administration staff spent the summer “working very heavily” to explore logistics of the proposed changes, such as secondary class schedules, staffing needs and classroom requirements.
The superintendent previously warned that restructuring likely wouldn’t be possible by the original target of fall 2024, and the summer research found enough snags to give Scanlon and his team pause.
The junior high schools would simply exchange one grade for another — ninth grade would move out to the high school and sixth grade would move in from elementary — a nimbler change than adding a fourth grade level to the high school, which currently houses grades 10-12. It’s not a matter of the number of students, Scanlon pointed out. Due to declining enrollment over time, the population at the high school with an added grade would be roughly on par with its population about a decade ago — just shy of 1,800 students, according to district data. But each grade has specific classroom requirements.
“Ninth grade does require some different courses — certified teachers in areas of science and languages — that need to be maneuvered around,” Scanlon explained, saying major considerations include the number of appropriate classroom spaces for art, music and science labs. “We just need a little bit more time to figure out those particulars.”
The board opted last April to table any decision on officially adopting the proposed restructuring until the administration could present research on logistics and cost, and also find a way to address concerns over early start times at district secondary schools.
Scanlon indicated the logistical research should wrap up next month, and a committee looking into start times is in full swing, with plans to send out a survey early this fall to assess related community needs. A possible second survey with more specific proposals may go out by the end of the calendar year, he added.
When asked, Scanlon didn’t rule out the possibility of changing start times sooner than 2025, but indicated that particular conversation would take place in the context of the upcoming survey results.