Weekly Feature

2011-03-10 / Front Page

Iroquois considers moving fourth grade


In an attempt to close a $1.4 million budget gap, the Iroquois School District Board of Education is considering moving the fourth grade from the intermediate school to the primary schools.

At a March 3 budget work session, interim Superintendent Bruce Fraser said the move would save the district $547,500 — almost one third of the deficit. He added that there are very few options that would help to produce the necessary funds.

As part of the suggested reorganization, the fourth grade would be shifted to the primary schools, the fifth grade would move to where the fourth is currently located in the intermediate school, and the fifth-grade wing would be left vacant. Fraser said the district would try to lease this space to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“It’s not what we want to do, but I think we are being forced into it by a very difficult financial situation,” he said.

Currently, Elma, Wales and Marilla primary schools house students in kindergarten through third grade. Fourth and fifth grades are at the intermediate, school and sixth through eighth at the middle school.

In addition to the movement of students, the plan calls for eliminating one administrator, the intermediate school nurse and a librarian. The district would also cut one guidance counselor position, one clerical position, one building aide and one K-4 instructor.

It also proposes that the middle school nurse assume responsibility for the fifth grade in addition to students in grades six through eight. Parents and teachers both objected to this, stating that the current middle school nurse is already overworked and that fifth-graders visit the nurse more often than middle school students.

Fraser also suggested that the fifth-grade students would also begin to use the middle school library.

Board members seemed unsure that this was the right time to make such a change in the district, citing that the district is in the midst of looking for a new superintendent. Several members said they felt that this option should be considered as a last resort.

“To me, this seems like a huge change to make,” Board of Education Vice President Susan Brunner said. “And on top of that, we’ve still got another $1 million to find.”

Another option the board has considered is closing one of the primary schools, but Fraser indicated that he did not think that was the best course of action.

“We feel closing a primary building right now is much more divisive,” he said.

Fraser added that the idea will continue to be discussed at the board’s next two budget work sessions and said he hopes the elementary school principals will attend them so he can hear their perspective.

The board’s next budget work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in the library at the high school, 2111 Girdle Road, Elma.

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