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Author Topic: 6th graders to middle school this year ( 8/09 )  (Read 7386 times)
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« on: August 26, 2009, 09:33:16 PM »

FROM : Randy Trani
Principal Corbett Schools

Dear Parents,

   I am sure you all know the story of the Titanic.  The basic problem with the Titanic was it was too big to change course quickly to avoid a collision that a much smaller nimbler craft could have easily missed.  Furthermore, IF the Titanic had been sailing along next to a much more dexterous craft and they had both simultaneously spotted an island covered with Spanish gold the smaller boat would have been able to change course in order to claim the prize.

Luckily, I am the captain of a small nimble craft and not a lumbering behemoth incapable of responding efficiently to either opportunity or peril.
As you all know last winter and spring we worked tirelessly to avoid, not just economic icebergs, but entire economic continental ice sheets from crushing our little craft known as Corbett School District.  While our neighbors all over the state spent their time cutting positions, cutting athletics, eliminating programs such as art, band, and other electives we managed to retain every single teacher. 

The publicity of having the only Middle School To Watch in the State as well as the publicity of having our high school AP Program  identified by Newsweek as 8th in the nation out of over 25,000 public high schools has generated enormous interest for families to move to Corbett . In fact during the last two weeks we have had more than 60 additional students register to attend Corbett Schools who live within our district boundaries!  In a district where we have  seen a steady decrease in the in-district student population for decades we suddenly have an unprecedented 13% increase to our in-district student count.  These 60 students will generate considerable income for a district short of cash, but they also generate a responsibility to educate them in a appropriate manner.

For years I have been looking off the port bow towards a beach covered with Spanish gold called a 6-8 middle school.  Unfortunately, as we are the lowest funded school district in Multnomah County we simply could not afford the coal, we could not generate the resources needed, to make the journey to a multi-age 6-8 middle school.  Even a maneuverable ship like Corbett needs fuel to get to islands covered with gold.

As new in-district students  enrolled during the last two weeks our classroom size at the 4-6 level grew alarmingly from 25-26 to 29-30!  Although class sizes of 29 and 30 are common in other lower performing schools they represent icebergs to me.  If I can steer the boat around them I will. It takes resources, it takes coal, to change the course of a school……luckily we just had an influx of coal! With that coal I can redistribute current staff as well as hire additional teachers to create a better learning environment.

Essentially we had a decision thrust upon us in the last two weeks.  Dead ahead we see the looming iceberg of unacceptable class size, to our port we have the beckoning island of Spanish gold called a multi-age 6-8 middle school.  As captain of the ship I am changing course.  If we do not change course it will represent an opportunity missed as well as a response to class size that is typical of other districts but not Corbett.  Corbett School will be organized with five 4-5 classrooms with a class size of 25, and six 6-8 classrooms with a class size of 25.

If you are the parent of a 6th grade student your child will be attending school in the middle school in a multi-age 6-8 classroom.  The addition of 6th grade students to the middle school will necessitate the reassigning of 7th and 8th grade students to balance all six  classrooms.  Furthermore, some 4th and 5th grade students will also need to be reassigned amongst the five 4-5 classrooms to maintain equity amongst all rooms. 

Obviously, parents of students in grade 6-8 may have questions about which class their child will be in, as well as how the first day of school will look.  We will have a middle school parent meeting this Friday at 6:00-7:00 in the middle school commons to discuss the exciting upcoming year!  We will describe the middle school program, and provide class lists. 

We realize that students have been told who their teachers will be and this change in course will necessitate changing many of those teacher designations.  However, to maintain our current course would be irresponsible especially given that we can move to a model of middle school education regarded as best practice by the National Middle School Association and the Oregon Middle Level Association.

I look forward to visiting with you and the teachers this Friday.  I am excited about this new opportunity to expand our Nationally recognized middle school program.

Randy Trani
Principal Corbett Schools

Original word .doc attached.

* Dear_Parents.doc (111.5 KB - downloaded 879 times.)

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