Nation/World

Post Falls Panel Suggests Teaching Students In Shifts Double-Shifting A Stopgap Measure To Ease Overcrowding

Parents of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade children may have an awkward juggling act next school year in Post Falls.

Faced with crowded classrooms, lunchrooms and hallways in the still-growing schools, the school board is considering drastic changes in schedules and grade alignments to temporarily squeeze in more students.

The school district’s long-range planning committee recommended Monday night that the district move sixth-graders to the junior high to make room at the elementary schools.

But to fit the more than 300 sixth-graders in the junior high, middle-school students most likely would have to attend school in double, or even triple, overlapping shifts.

That means some students would attend in the mornings while others would attend in the afternoons.

School officials plan to hold two or three public hearings on the plan before deciding what to do. Another temporary option is to install more portable classrooms at the elementary schools.

Both options would be simply stop-gap measures until the district can pass a bond issue for a new school.

“We spent a lot of time on this. It was not an easy decision,” said committee member Joni Hirst. “A number of us will have children in the middle of this.”

Of all the school board members, Ed Adamchak raised the most questions about the plan. He wondered how many elementary classrooms would be empty next year as a result.

“I know there are going to be parents of sixth-graders, myself included, asking, ‘Why is my kid being double-shifted when there are empty classes in the elementary schools,”’ he said.

If the average growth rate of 3 percent continues, those classes will not be empty for long, said committee members.

Adamchak also suggested the district consider discontinuing kindergarten, because it is not required, and move the sixth-graders to the kindergarten center in the Frederick Post building.

“Anything’s possible,” answered Superintendent Richard Harris. “I’d have some real concerns. We’re trying to prepare kids for first grade … I’d want to look long and hard at eliminating that step.”

The committee has suggested holding a bond election for a new high school in October 1996. If a high school is built, the district can convert the existing high school into a middle school for three grades.

The existing junior high could be used as a temporary elementary school, the committee suggested.

The committee has advised against holding the bond election in the spring because of the possibility that the 1996 legislative session may result in new laws to help school construction.

, DataTimes



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