Outgoing superintendent offers suggestions

LISBON – Although school Superintendent Don Thompson is retiring June 30, he said intends to continue raising issues for the board and his successor to consider after he is gone.

Thompson told his board at this week’s meeting they should begin considering making fifth grade part of the middle school, which is located in the same building as the high school.

He said the board needs to consider this realignment in consultation with his replacement, but it is only a matter of time before it must be done to improve academic opportunities for fifth-grade students.

Thompson said studies show that fifth-graders perform better when they are part of the middle school instead of being in the top class in elementary school, where other studies show they struggle.

This would be the third such alignment in the past 21 years. In 1993, the seventh grade was made part of middle school when the new middle-high school complex opened. The middle school was expanded to include the sixth grade in 2006.

Thompson said previous fears of placing younger middle school students in the same building as high school students have proved to be unfounded and should not be used as an excuse against such a realignment. The middle and high school sections of the complex are separate.

He said the extra space at McKinley Elementary School could be used to create a learning lab for students, especially to help third-grade students meet the state’s new reading proficiency requirement.

Before any of this would happen, Thompson said a public hearing should be held to solicit public input.

“This, again, is coming from someone who will not be around to see it,” he said.

The board’s next meeting is 5 p.m. April 9.