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EV school board holds forums on closings, transfers

Change is coming to East Valley.

Starting this fall, sixth-graders will stay at their elementary schools, and seventh- and eighth-graders will attend East Valley Middle School with the closing of Mountain View Middle School in East Farms.

The school board collected public comments during three meetings this week to find out what concerns the parents have with the changes.

“I have great concern now for my sixth-grader,” said one parent. He said the plan to eliminate the middle schools was supposed to reduce transitions for the students. His sixth-grader just transitioned from elementary school to Mountain View. Next year, his child will go to East Valley Middle School.

“Yes, there are going to be some kids caught in some transitions,” Superintendent John Glenewinkel said. He hopes to make those transitions easier with suggestions from the public.

One concern is the mascots. It may seem like a small thing when you think about the changes coming in the district, but many Mountain View parents are worried their students will feel like outsiders when they move in with the current East Valley Middle School students.

One parent suggested making the school colors green and white, like the high school, and making everyone Knights, especially since in two years she’s going to have to start buying green and white anyway.

Some parents thought it would be a good idea to let the students decide on the mascot, to give them some control.

One parent suggested special projects students can work on together once school starts. Ice cream socials and other events may be planned at schools receiving students from Skyview Elementary, which also will be closed at the end of the year.

Another parent worried about books in the libraries unsuitable for younger students. Glenewinkel said there are some books on the approved reading list that are not appropriate for all students. He hopes the system they’ve created will allow librarians to know the students and what they should be reading and what they can check out.

He added that in the original re-visioning plan, the idea was to keep books for the middle school students in a library at the Middle Level Learning Center to keep those books away from younger students.

The same parent said she was not in favor of the re-visioning, and her daughter and her classmates are upset to lose Mountain View. They want to wear their Mountain View gear in protest at the new school and refuse to become involved with school activities.

But the parent also said that she encouraged her child to participate, since the change was coming anyway.

“I hope they wear their school colors,” Glenewinkel said. He knows that students at that age are beginning to voice their own opinions and he doesn’t want to discourage that.

Sixth-grade sports was a concern.

“The sports we’re keeping,” said board member Heidi Gillingham. “We just don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

Glenewinkel hopes to offer fifth-grade intramural sports including flag football, volleyball, wrestling, cross-country, softball and baseball. He said East Farms and Trent both have gyms large enough to lay down the wrestling mats.

There are several options officials will mull over for seventh- and eighth-grade varsity sports. Glenewinkel said their decision will be made based on community desire, funds available and participation.

One of those options is to have a team at every school for all court and field sports. Football, in this plan, would include two teams – east and west.

Another option would be to have local school teams, but elite regional teams for varsity sports.

Until the state budget is confirmed – the district’s budget could be cut anywhere from $1.5 million to $2.8 million – officials won’t be able to make many decisions. However, Chairman Mitch Jensen told the meeting Wednesday afternoon that the school board will have a plan for many of these issues by the end of next week.