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District Begins Discussions Regarding New Grade Configurations

                Cleburne ISD is considering new grade configurations for the 2020-2021 school year, which were presented to Trustees at the February 18 board meeting.

                The district is in the conversation stage of a possible return to Pre-Kindergarten-4, 5-6; 7-8 and 9-12 grade configurations that were first utilized in the fall of 2001, with the opening of Cleburne Middle School, now Smith MS. In 2007, the current configurations were implemented with the completion of the new Adams, Irving and Santa Fe Elementary Schools. At that time, fifth grade was returned to the elementary level and two 6th-8th grade middle schools were established.

                “Now that we have presented the concept to the board, we are now in the process of collecting input from our teachers and parents,” Superintendent Dr. Kyle Heath said. “As a district we have growth capacity concerns. This proposal would potentially address some of these needs.”

Following meetings with CISD principals and Trustees, a survey is being prepared for teachers and parents. Students in grades 6-12 who serve on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee, have also been given information regarding new grade configurations and have shared their thoughts.

                In addition to assisting with capacity concerns, Heath has cited the positive impact the new grade configurations could have on academics.

                “Our bilingual program currently stops at the fifth grade,” Heath said. “We could, with this proposal, make the program available to all 6th-8th grade bilingual students. The fifth and sixth grade campus, which would be located at Smith, would be run more like an elementary school. We think this would better meet our students’ academic, social and emotional needs.”

                With Wheat serving as the middle school campus, eighth graders could have access to career and technical education and the after school Jacket Academy programs at the high school.

                Heath also sees a great positive in the benefit of bringing students together before they promote to middle school, and the return to a “one middle school” community.

“I believe this could strengthen the bond between our Yellow Jackets,” Heath said. “So many of our students already know each other as participants in the variety of programs for youth we have in the community. These kids also go to church together. But now they could be together as classmates, beginning in the fifth grade. They could be teammates in middle school in athletics, the fine arts and UIL academics.”

The new plan may entail changes in start and dismissal times at all CISD campuses to assist parents with drop-off and pick-up, as well as modifying some of the bus routes.

 “As with anything we do in our school district,” Heath said, “Doing what is right for kids is the driver behind every decision.”