Some middle school students may be reassigned to ease crowding

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — With 834 students, Lange Middle School has about 100 more kids than Gentry Middle School. To ease the overcrowding at Lange, about 23 fifth-graders and 36 fourth-graders from Cedar Ridge Elementary School would be sent to Gentry under a plan appearing before the Columbia School Board on Monday.

That would add up to about 60 newcomers at Gentry over two years starting this fall, said Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent of elementary education. Also, Lange sixth-graders in the Cedar Ridge area may be moved to Gentry.

“The board will make the decision if they want to approve this plan,” said Jensen, who will present it to the board. “If they decide, it will go into effect the 2009-10 school year.”

Letters were mailed April 20 to the families of the 23 fifth-graders from Cedar Ridge as well as to several families with Lange sixth-graders in the Cedar Ridge area.

“The letter described that we were thinking about the possible move and talked about why we were thinking about making that move,” Jensen said.

A few weeks before the letters were sent, the families were invited to a meeting at Cedar Ridge to express thoughts and concerns.

“Of the families that were present that night, the feelings were positive regarding the move,” Jensen said. “They asked us to take into consideration transportation and consideration of the effect on kids going into Jefferson Junior High School.”

He is still working on whether to move Lange seventh-graders who want to switch to Gentry, and the bus routes are still being discussed. As for hiring or transferring teachers to accommodate the student population shift, Jensen said it was too early to tell.

“We want to keep the number of teachers the same yet keep the impact positive at those schools,” he said. “More students at Gentry will add to the job stability (of teachers) at Gentry and less students at Lange will make it more conducive to student learning.”

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