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Grade 5 May Be Relocated

CUMBERLAND – The classrooms at the Middle/High School complex in Cumberland County are empty and students in the second grade are being taught in mobile units behind the Cumberland Elementary School so, as a solution, it only makes sense to look into moving the fifth grade students and team of teachers from the Elementary School to the new building, according to Cumberland County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin.

This fifth grade reconfiguration announcement was made to the School Board on Monday evening but letters have already been sent out to parents and meetings have been conducted at the Elementary School, added Dr. Griffin to the School Board members.

Although talks are starting now, the switch wouldn't come until the new school year begins in August and the final decision about the move won't be made by the School Board until December after several public meetings are held.

“Last year, when taking Frank Ruff around through the building, the Middle and High School, last year it kind of hit us-when we went from room to room and saw empty room after empty room,” explained Dr. Griffin. “And then I go down to the Elementary School and see second graders in mobile units-that something didn't make sense. It came to me that we had enough space up here to move fifth grade.”

Dr. Griffin noted that she recommends for final approval in December that the Elementary School be reconfigured to pre-kindergarten to fourth grade and reconfigure the Middle School to be fifth grade through eighth grade.

“In this proposal, fifth and sixth grade would be housed downstairs on this bottom level,” noted Dr. Griffin about the Middle School. “Seventh and eighth grade would be upstairs.”

This proposal would allow the second grade to move inside the Elementary School and students would not be in mobile units.

“I think it's a more safe and secure environment for all of the students within the school division,” she said. “We would also sell the mobile units for a one-time cost and we would be saving in utilities long-term. The mobile units are also starting to deteriorate. They've been out there almost since the school was built in 1996…They have some age on them now and they are starting to deteriorate and when it rains it rains right through the middle of the mobile units…”

The reconfiguration will also allow the Elementary School to be a smaller school.

The student enrollment is 740 students right now, noted Dr. Griffin.

“This will reduce the number there where we can really concentrate on grades pre-k through fourth grade,” she said.

The Superintendent also noted that she has already met with the fifth grade team of teachers.

“The fifth grade team was excited about it and then we met with the Elementary School staff,” she told the School Board, “to inform them about what the recommendation was and about how the process would go and they seem to be okay with it.”

So far, the school division has not heard any negative comments about the reconfiguration proposal, added Dr. Griffin.

Parent Information Meeting

There was also a parent information meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 25 in the Elementary School cafeteria where questions were addressed by the school administration.

Afterwards, on November 14 during the next scheduled School Board meeting there will also be a public comment time where input will be received concerning the recommendation.

“We've given people plenty of notice and we're allowing people to tell us if they are concerned in any way or what their thoughts are so when you make a decision in December you make a well-informed decision,” said Dr. Griffin about the School Board's upcoming vote on the fifth grade reconfiguration.