Facing a $480,000 from the loss of overrides, the Fredonia Moccasin Unified School District is faced with some very difficult decisions. Last Tuesday, Superintendent Nicholas Bartlett held a public forum to inform the community and discuss the plan to be proposed to the school board. The plan consists of moving the seventh and eighth grade to the high school, as well as eliminating positions throughout the district. 

“We understand there are concerns and want to hear and address those concerns,” explained Bartlett. “The reason for doing this,” he continued, “is some of the teachers have said they are not going to be returning. Instead of hiring for those positions, we’d utilize all of the secondary teachers.” 

Bartlett plans to use the secondary teachers and classes already in place to educate the seventh and eighth graders.

Concerned citizen Cathy Chell asked how the district planned to segregate the middle school students from the high school students to avoid problems.

Bartlett explained the students would not be sharing classes, with the exception of Band, which currently is a mixed class anyway, and possibly Algebra I. Eighth graders who are excelling in math may be placed in Algebra I to help better challenge them.

The district is figuring out the logistics of moving lockers to establish separate areas as well. 

Teachers may be required to step into the hallway for observation during period changes to help discourage problems, and cameras may be installed for better monitoring.

Bartlett stated, “The one goal is, I don’t want them to merge over there and get lost, I want them merge over and [continue to] be their own separate entity with their own government.”

Elementary principal Joe B. Wright explained the proposed changes to the elementary school. Sixth grade would be a self-contained class and each grade would only have one classroom. The classes would no longer be split.

According to Wright, at this time, the smallest class would have 13 students and the largest would have 28. Aides would only be available for some classes.

The proposal includes the elimination of six positions above the 1-½ not returning.  Of the six, two are non-teaching positions, three are teaching positions, .5 custodial and .5 transportation. 

By combining the seventh and eighth grade with the high school and eliminating the positions, the minimum savings will be approximately $372,000. 

Concerns were raised as to how the positions to be eliminated would be chosen.  Bartlett explained that a few years ago the district had developed an effectiveness rubric to evaluate the staff. Taking into consideration student success, years of experience, sponsors, evaluations and other criteria, a list is created. The staff members in the bottom 25% will be reviewed for elimination. 

Bartlett explained, however, review will be between like positions. For example, an algebra teacher would not be compared to a kindergarten teacher.

Several community members voiced their concerns about the proposed staff cuts. 

Bartlett stated he is hoping the proposed change will provide more opportunities for the seventh and eighth grade students.