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Petruzielo: Add Fifth-Grade Levels At Three Schools

The school board will consider approving the recommendations next month.

Fifth-grade classes should be added to Bascomb, Boston and Oak Grove Elementary Schools. That's the recommendation voiced by Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo to the Cherokee County School Board on Thursday.

The superintendent announced the recommendation during the public input hearing the board held for parents to give feed back on the district's annual boundary reconfiguration process. 

Adding a fifth-grade class at the three elementary schools would mean rising fourth-grade students would complete their elementary school careers at their respective schools. They would then move onto sixth grade at E.T. Booth Middle School. Clark Creek Elementary, which also feeds into Booth, opened this year with a fifth-grade class.

Holding fifth-grade students at the three schools would allow the district to open its replacement E.T. Booth Middle facility in August with a sixth- through eighth-grade model. The facility will have a capacity of 1,500. 

District staff held meetings with parents of students who would be affected by the change as part of the boundary configuration process, which addresses the impact of new neighborhoods, population surges and whether adjustments to boundary lines need to be made to reduce overcrowding.

Petruzielo also recommended allowing the Chapman Intermediate School building become part of Etowah High School's inventory. While there had been talks about using the facility as a ninth-grade center, the superintendent noted it would be best to allow the principal, staff and Etowah community to determine the best use for the building “rather than making a unilateral determination."

The superintendent also recommended leaving the current configuration at Ball Ground Elementary School in place. The school has a configuration of kindergarten through sixth-grade and Petruzielo noted there didn't seem to be enough community consensus to make a determination. 

However, Petruzielo noted staff would support either model, but added "it would not be academically or fiscally responsible to support the splitting of sixth-grade students between two schools."

One parent spoke at the public hearing. Scott McDonald, who has a child in fourth grade at Ball Ground, said he supports leaving the school's current grade configuration in place.

“We feel it promotes the community school concept," he said. 

The final recommendations will be considered at the Dec. 6 board meeting at 7 p.m. The boundaries will be effective for the 2013-14 school year.

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