By Brendan Miller on January 25, 2024.
Parents with children attending four public schools in Medicine Hat received an email from the board Wednesday asking for their feedback as they look to reconfigure grades taught in those schools.
The public school board is considering changing the grades in the following schools:
Vincent Massey School currently teaches ELP to Grade 6 and would shift to teach Grades 4-6.
Webster Niblock and George Davidson School currently teach ELP to Grade 6 and would shift to teach ELP to Grade 3.
And Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre currently teaches ELP to Grade 9 and would shift to teach Grades 4-9.
During a board meeting Monday, superintendent Mark Davidson asked the board to consider the motion that would allow the division more opportunities to create different configurations of students in the same grade.
“Narrowing the grade levels would allow greater flexibility in terms of placing students in different classes at their own grade level, making it more possible or likely to have like a graded class,” says Davidson. “And the ability to have a more focused professional learning plan that addresses what are more similar needs between, for example, between Grade 2 and Kindergarten, then between Grade 2 and Grade 6.”
Davidson says the idea is worth exploring and could improve the division’s ability to provide focused support for students in similar grade levels.
It would also provide teachers the ability to move students in the same grade class configurations that might be better for overall learning.
Davidson provided the board with the following example of separating students into different classrooms:
“Billy and Joey are wonderful children but when they’re together they bounce off each other. It might be good for Joey to be here and Billy to be there. When you’re in a school with one class per grade or one and a half per grade it can be harder to make those kinds of positive shifts for young people.”
Davidson told the board the reconfiguration would not have an impact on their capital budget and the division would not need to make any changes to staff. However, he expects there would be a short-term impact while the division moves around its resources.
The board was also told the reconfiguration would help support the implementation of new academies for sports and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field.
Davidson also provided the board an example of how school buses could be affected with the new grade reconfiguration:
“Students who attend Webster Niblock and Vincent Massey from the same family, they can get on the bus together. Little sister or brother would be dropped off at Webster Niblock, the bus will carry on and drop off the older at Vincent Massey.”
Parents who have children attending these schools will be sent a survey as well as information on timelines for consultations at each school.
Parents will be invited to participate in a school community meeting with members of the public school board.
“At that meeting, administration will present the idea and members of the board and myself and others of my staff will be there to hear the questions, comments, concerns from the families” says Davidson.
Following consultation the board is expected to present its recommendation to the board of trustees at its March 26 public meeting.