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New schools to be K-8

Vote not unanimous

After months of research and weeks of discussion, Madera Unified trustees decided Tuesday night to create two new K-8 schools in the district.

Voters gave approval last November for two elementary schools and a concurrent enrollment middle school when they passed Measure M, a school construction bond.

After passage of Measure M, the district began to address the issue of configuration — should the two elementary schools be K-6 schools or K-8 facilities?

In a May 2 workshop, the Superintendent’s Executive Cabinet recommended maintaining the three middle schools that already exist but making both of the new elementary facilities K-8 campuses.

While acknowledging that there is “no single solution to the question of most effective grade level configuration…” the district’s leaders expressed the belief that a “hybrid approach” to the configuration question would be the best for Madera Unified.

The staff report noted that while the existing middle schools meet the needs of hundreds of Madera students, modern research “strongly supports K-8s as a viable option for students, family, and staff.”

The report went on to point out several advantages of the K-8 configuration, which included data comparing local K-8 schools with the district’s middle schools.

Students from Madera Unified’s K-8 schools show stronger reading and writing skills, stronger math results on local and state assessments, have stronger long-term achievement in high school, and have a higher high school graduation rate and higher grade point averages.

When the matter came before the school board at its regular meeting Tuesday, a majority of five appeared to favor the K-8 plan. Trustees Ricardo Arredondo and Ed McIntyre, however, had reservations. Both contended that more research was needed — Arredondo a bit more aggressively than McIntyre.

When the question was called, the motion to go with the K-8 plan passed 6-0. Arredondo abstained; McIntyre voted with the majority. When questioned after the meeting, McIntyre explained his yes vote by stating, “I’m a team player.”

Plans for the concurrent enrollment middle school, set to open in 2020, are not affected by Tuesday’s vote.


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