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The Tinley Junction 021617

8 | February 16, 2017 |

8 | February 16, 2017 | The tinley junction school Community Consolidated School D146 board of education Officials talk of ways to accommodate fifth-graders, kindergartners Brittany Kapa, Assistant Editor The incorporation of fullday kindergarten classes into Community Consolidated District 146 schools may have a major impact on area fifth graders, and residents expressed mixed emotions during a recent school board meeting. On Monday, Feb. 6, parents gathered to hear the proposed shift of fifth grade classes to Central Middle School to accommodate for the addition of the kindergartners. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Stawick said this option would be more financially responsible for the district in lieu of building additions onto all of the elementary schools. “Since that meeting, there have been a number of developments,” Stawick said. “The first, which is adding what we need Option One to contain in order to make it comparable facilities wise to Option D, is much, much more expensive than I expected it to be – millions more expensive than I expected it to be.” In reality, Option One went from costing $6.4 million to complete to over $13 million, and Stawick and the board were not convinced that was the proper course of action. Stawick said that geographically the additional spaces for kindergarten would not make sense, and in order to create a desirable space for these areas it would cost double what the architects had originally projected. “It has everything the current fifth grade experience does and more,” Stawick said. “The more is what I’m really excited about.” Part of making Option D work for all the students includes a proposed block of 12 classrooms at Central that would be set aside for the fifth-grade students essentially creating a wing of the school for these students. Additional lunch and gym spaces would allow the students to be separated from the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in an attempt to keep the elementary school structure. Math and art classes would be included in this plan, and students would experience an increase in gym time among other subject. The students would adhere to a modified middle school schedule and would be sectioned off into three classroom teams. The Understanding biodiversity Andrew students learn the importance of taking care of the environment, animals at Biodiversity Fair theory behind this system is to make the transition from elementary school to middle school life a little easier, and to mimic the experience of still being in elementary school. These upgrades and additions would total $9.6 million and would include a new playground space for the fifth-graders. If Option D passes board approval, the shift is projected to take place during the fall 2018 class. Parents, teachers voice concerns for plans proposed The Option D proposal was met with concern from parents at the meeting. Robyn Flowers currently has a son in second grade who attends Kruse Education Center and would be one of the students affected by this change. One of her major concerns was that fifth-grade students would not be emotionally ready for middle school. “My main concern for this move for the fifth-graders is that they’re not emotionally ready for this,” Flowers said during public comment at the meeting. “I’m looking to you as the board to do what’s right by the parents and by what the teachers are saying.” Flowers added that she would rather see a slight increase in her taxes in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten than to see the fifth graders be moved. “I understand what the board is trying to do,” Flowers said in a follow up interview with The Junction. “I understand they’re trying to be [fiscally] responsible.” Bridget Morley had mixed emotions about the situation. As a mother of five in Tinley Park, Morley has a child who currently attends Central and three who are at Fierke Elementary with a newborn at home. Whatever decision the school board comes to would directly impact her children. She stated during public comment that at one point she would have three children at Central if Option D was adopted, and while that may be convenient she still had concerns. “I have mixed emotions about what is happening here,” Morley said at the school board meeting. “I really, in my heart, think that the fifth-graders need to be with the younger kids. What you guys have laid out sounds like a beautiful plan; it sounds like a wonderful idea.” Please see D146, 15 ABOVE: Juniors Rishel Jose (left) and Ann Jacobson present their project, which centered on the Siberian tiger. LEFT: Andrew sophomore Clarice Ferrolino explains to junior Amaiya Sims how Florida manatees are now becoming extinct at the Feb. 10 Biodiversity Fair held in the school cafeteria. Photos by F. 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