Some parents looking at ‘tough,’ ‘stressful’ year at Colorado Elementary School

 

UPDATE: The Muscatine School District is re-organizing much of the entire school district.

The district says it needs to better use its buildings because of falling enrollment in Muscatine schools.

Starting next school year, all sixth graders will be taught in the district's elementary schools.

The two middle schools, Central and West, will only teach seventh and eighth graders.

Colorado elementary schools will only teach pre-school students.

All the students now at Colorado Elementary will be taught at Madison Elementary, or will be given first priority to transfer to any other open elementary school within the district.

Muscatine School District leaders voted on the plan Monday, November 12th.

According to district leaders, teachers will not be laid off because of the changes made.

 

MUSCATINE, Iowa-- The Muscatine School District is moving ahead with a plan that would change Colorado Elementary School by next year. Some parents say they'll lose something special.

The plan is to move all the students, kindergarteners through fifth-graders, out of Colorado to Madison Elementary School. Then the pre-schoolers, which currently attend other elementary schools, would all attend Colorado. Sixth grade will also be moved from middle schools to elementary schools.

"The teachers and all the staff (at Colorado), they really go above and beyond for their students every opportunity they get," says Sarah Evans, the mother of a fourth grader and a second grader at Colorado.

She and about two dozen other parents expressed their concerns and questions during an open forum Thursday, Nov. 8.

Superintendent Dr. Jerald Riibe says the district is looking at the change because of declining enrollment and aging buildings.

With sixth graders moving out of the elementary schools, Central Middle School will be closed in fall 2020. That building has stood for about 80 years. Riibe also says the elementary school space will be used better with pre-schoolers consolidated at Colorado.

"I understand why they're doing it," says Holly Bryant, the parent of a Colorado first grader. "Enrollment's down. (My son's) class size is very, very small right now. I'm concerned about where he's going to end up."

While current Colorado students will be sent to Madison Elementary, parents have the chance to opt-in at other schools first next year.

"(Students are) worried about what's going to happen, and especially when they're younger and they don't understand why their school has to close for some reason," Bryant says. "They just are worried about where they're going to end up."

Parents who opt-in at another school likely won't know for sure if they're able to attend until January.

Some parents at the start of the open forum said they were worried about bigger class sizes. Riibe says the elementary schools will have more classes for a grade if necessary. The district also isn't laying-off any Colorado teachers with this plan but will instead have them work at other elementary schools.

Parents and administrators say the change won't be easy.

"It was hard to look at some of the parents that I see in the pick-up line and the teachers I see in the school knowing this is a stressful year and a strong year for us to either rise above or fall together," Evans says. "But thankfully we're all kind of resilient. We have to be. We don't really have a choice."