Harrisburg School District to keep 5th graders in elementary for next school year

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Superintendent Eric Turman speaks at Monday’s school board meeting.

The Harrisburg School District is making an important change for the upcoming school year.

At a school board meeting on Monday, district officials announced a plan to bring fifth-grade students from its middle schools back to the elementary level.

“The data shows that the 5and being in the middle tier is problematic,” District Superintendent Eric Turman said.

According to Turman, the move has been under discussion since the fall, after the district saw negative declines of 4and at 5and grade in academic and behavioral data.

Turman said that under the current model, when students move to 5and year, the district experienced a decrease in attendance, an increase in suspensions, and a decrease in academic improvement.

The district believes that keeping fifth-grade students in elementary schools will provide a better structure and environment for students, while better accommodating the current curriculum. Turman said it will also benefit “overcrowded” colleges by decreasing the overall student population in those buildings.

In a recent survey released by the district, a majority, 72%, of teachers and parents who responded thought the transition would be beneficial.

Turman said elementary students moving in in 5and class will stay in the same elementary school they were in before.

Additionally, Kindergarten will be added to Cougar Academy.

The new configuration of school levels will affect the following schools and will be as follows:

  • Ben Franklin Elementary School, K-5
  • Scott Elementary School, K-5
  • Melrose Elementary School, grades K-5
  • Foose Elementary School, K-5
  • Downey Elementary School, Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Rowland Academy Middle School, Grades 6-8
  • Camp Curtin Middle School, Grades 6-8
  • Cougar Academy, K-12

Turman explained that all elementary schools in the district have enough space to accommodate the additional class. Many schools have several unused classrooms that will be used, he said.

At Monday’s meeting, district receiver Dr. Lori Suski approved the plan. It will come into effect at the start of the next academic year.

According to the district, further communications about the plan will be sent to parents beginning Tuesday.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” Turman said. “It was well thought out.”

Separately, Suski also approved the hiring of Heidi Zula as the district’s new human resources director. His salary will be $125,000.

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