June 17, 2014

Middle School Advisory Committee makes recommendations - By Elizabeth Richards

The Middle School Advisory Committee has completed its first phase with a recommendation, made at the June 4th school board meeting, that three options be considered moving forward.

The first of the three options is to renovate Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS) and build a 6 through 8 grade Windham Middle School on the current Windham campus. Included in this option was a modification to renovate JSMS and build a new grades 5 to 8 middle school in Windham, shifting Manchester school to grades 3 and 4 and Windham Primary School (WPS) to grades Pre-K to 2.

The second option recommended for consideration is to build a new consolidated middle school on the current Windham Campus for grades 6 through 8 from both towns.

Finally, the third possibility that the committee put forth was to shift grades in schools in both towns, making Raymond Elementary School (RES) a Pre-K to 6 school, WPS grades Pre-K to 2, Manchester school grades 3 and 4, and to build a new consolidated middle school on the Windham campus with one pod for Windham grades 5 and 6 and one pod for grades 7 and 8 from both Windham and Raymond.
The committee also recommended several next steps for the School Board.

The first was to schedule a workshop in September for review of information and data. Another recommendation was to solicit input from all staff at all levels. Two sessions for staff input were held as the committee did its work, but only at the middle schools, and early in the process.

The committee also recommended gathering public input in both Raymond and Windham. While there have been infographics distributed to the public as the committee moved through the process, there has not been much opportunity for public comment. Additionally, the committee suggested that the board consider an Advisory Referendum at the elections in November, to give the general public a voice.
Catriona Sangster, chair of the committee, said that the committee will continue its work. A subcommittee will work on interpreting data from student surveys. The committee will also gather information for the board workshop in September. No date has been set for that workshop.

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