There have been quite a few shifts in how the schools in the Gallatin Valley service the children of the area. Ongoing discussion about re-districting in Bozeman, redistricting for the elementary schools in Belgrade and a reconfiguration of the middle school in Belgrade are a few of the most recent.
by Hannah Stiff, Belgrade News
Starting next fall, middle school will look a little bit different in Belgrade. Rather than the seventh and eighth grade model currently being used, the Belgrade School Board voted Monday night to make the middle school a 5-8 configuration. Superintendent of Belgrade Schools Candy Lubansky has said repeatedly that any combination of grades can work, so long as the staff and students are adequately prepared for a new model.
“Where we find ourselves now is that we have a lot of positive excitement behind the five to eight model,” Lubansky said.
The district will phase out the intermediate school and replace it with a new kindergarten through fourth grade model and the 5-8 middle school. Lubansky said the district has gone through the process of looking through what’s required to re-configure the middle school in Belgrade. The district is jumping through the proper hoops to satiate Montana Office of Public Instruction requirements for a middle school.During the upcoming teacher PIR day on April 17, the district will work with teachers to address their concerns and help make a FAQ list for parents that alleviates their questions about the new model.
The bulk of the physical changes to the intermediate and middle schools will be minor, Lubanksy said. The school will need a double door entry in the middle school. The first set of doors to the school will be unlocked, while the second set will be locked and route visitors directly to the office to check in before entering the school.Another concern about the new model is the existing lunchroom space for the middle school. The small lunchroom will most likely need to be expanded for a larger middle school population. Lubansky said a school facilities team will address the structural changes that need to be made to accommodate the new middle school grade grouping.
Board Vice Chairman Peter Morgan wanted to know how the new middle school would impact future district growth. Lubanksy said creative space juggling mixed with a high school renovation would be the first steps involved in accommodating such large elementary school classes as they move through the grade rankings. Fifth grade students will remain more isolated from the rest of the middle school.
“We want to keep fifth grade very, very separate,” Lubansky said. “What we’re wanting to work toward is more teacher teams.
”Those teams would be incorporated into sixth grade especially, since students expect to be part of a team or pod during that year of their schooling. Lubansky said since the teams are a hallmark of middle school, she will work hard to make sure sixth grade students get that experience. School board trustees unanimously passed a motion for a 5th through 8th grade middle school starting this fall.