Posted Date: 11/06/2018
Enid Public Schools released Monday night the product of a five-month study regarding possible changes to its middle school configuration.
While the district will not be changing its current middle school structure, Superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd said he is optimistic that the study’s research will help EPS identify ways to improve the school experience for its sixth- through eighth-grade students.
“We believe it is important to strive for continuous improvement. Sometimes that means stepping out and looking at education differently,” Floyd said. “At the beginning of this process, we wanted to determine the feasibility of having grade-level centers. We found that this would be cost prohibitive. We do believe, however, that we can implement some of the ideas and suggestions shared by parents, community members and teachers to strengthen our educational programs at all three sites, as they are currently configured.”
EPS partnered with Dr. Ken Helvey of N2 Learning in June to begin exploring options for middle school improvement. Helvey conducted extensive research on the success of different school models, as well as hosted focus groups with teachers, parents and community members, representing all three middle school sites.
School officials also visited three Oklahoma districts with different middle school configurations, as well as conducted its own study of potential costs. In addition to other related expenses, transportation cost estimate increases for separate grade levels would total $1.2 million the first year and $300,000 annually for subsequent years.
“Rather than implementing a plan that would substantially increase district transportation costs, we believe we can make a greater impact by infusing a portion of this amount, along with our increased attention and effort, into changes that will improve the services that we provide through our existing configuration,” Floyd said. “We want to ensure that every student, no matter where they attend, receives the very best education possible. We also want to have school environments that help us continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest teachers for our students at every site."
During the study process, parents, teachers and community members had both positive feedback and concerns to share about the possibility of separate grade centers, Floyd said.
Positives included opportunities for the following: providing teachers with increased common planning time and fewer grade levels/classes to teach, providing students with a more consistent school experience district-wide, and providing sixth-grade students with their own site to help with the transition from elementary to middle school.
Concerns included multiple drop-off locations for families, requiring students to move schools annually, and requiring schools to leave their current home school to attend one with which they are less familiar.
Floyd said school and district officials will be reviewing the suggestions they received to determine what can be implemented for the fall of 2019, if possible. The district is especially interested, he said, in expanding academic and extracurricular opportunities for students and helping to eliminate any barriers that keep students from participating in district offerings.
“The most important part of this process was listening to those we serve – students, parents, community members, teachers and support staff,” Dr. Floyd said. “We have excellent middle schools, but the feedback we received will allow us to raise the bar even higher by ensuring that every student has access to the programs that better their school experience and provide the well-rounded education they need for success in college, in their careers, and in life.”