Next school year, Brown County schools will be consolidating fifth and sixth grade students into one intermediate school in an effort to make up nearly $1 million deficit. The move which will mean relocating more than 350 kids does not sit well with some in the community.
Dozens of parents and community members packed the cafeteria of Brown County High School Thursday night to share their concerns for a proposal that would consolidate all fifth and sixth grade students in one building. The plan is to move them all to the current Nashville Elementary School.
Assistant Superintendent Dennis Goldberg says kindergarten through fourth grade students currently enrolled at that school will be transferred into the county’s three remaining elementary schools.
“What really was imperative, and was the most defining aspect about this entire move towards an intermediate school was creating flexibility within our school district,” Goldberg says.
He says 14 teaching positions need to be eliminated in coming years to bridge the budget deficit caused by cuts in state funding. The new flexibility in classroom management, he says, will make those cuts possible through natural attrition, rather than layoffs.
Allison O’Shea has a second grader who attends Helmsberg Elementary School. O’Shea, who heads the PTO, says she and other parents came out to voice their concerns about many of the potential issues they say consolidation creates.
“I think that people were also concerned about larger class sizes, they were concerned about losing their favorite teachers, being moved around, and most of them felt like this was very rushed,” O’Shea says.
Goldberg says next year, elementary classes will have about 25 kids each, on average. The current number is as low as 13 or 14 he says.
The school board voted unanimously in favor of the consolidation plan recommended by the administration.