Huff met with a dozen school residents at a public meeting at the elementary school and spent her time talking about the factors backing the move with no one raising criticism.
“We want to put an emphasis back on middle school,” said Huff, who explained the sixth-graders will have little contact with seventh- and eighth-graders in the same wing.
“Scheduling will be (off-setting), and they will not be in the hallways at the same time as high school students and will have their own lunch time.
“The sixth grade hallway will be upstairs … this will assure the sixth graders are isolated from the high school students.”
The change does not require school board approval and will be in place when classes at Madison open in August for the 2019-20 school year.
The move also frees up classroom space in the elementary wing to add a needed preschool class, said Huff.
There are 881 students in the elementary wing’s pre-K through sixth-grade classes, but next year school officials project there will be 769 students in pre-K through fifth grade.
Grouping together grades 6 through 8 is rare in this region, but it has occurred.
In recent years nearby Edgewood Schools converted its old high school into a sixth-through-eighth-grade building.
Talawanda Schools spokeswoman Holli Morrish said its district’s grouping of the three grades has “alleviated some space issues at the elementary level.”
“Each grade level has a wing, but for electives there are a mix of students in grade levels in some courses (and) classrooms for elective courses are located throughout the building,” said Morrish.
New Miami Schools has the smallest enrollment of any of Butler County’s school systems, and like Madison, it has a single, multi-wing school campus for grades K-12.
Superintendent Rhonda Parker said the district adopted the grades 6-8 configuration in 2009 and it has proven successful.
“This model allowed for flexibility to expand class offerings as well as allow for extended time in English and mathematics. The success comes from staff being able to meet the needs of the young adolescent students who face many challenges as 11 to 13 years old do,” said Parker.
Madison school parent Carrie Wilson said she welcomed the change and the district’s using existing school space rather than exploring adding an addition to the pre-K through 12 campus.
“Sixth graders are too old to be in elementary school. And if this keeps them having another (tax) levy to build, I’m for it,” said Wilson.
Districts with sixth through eighth grades grouped together
* Will start for the 2019-20 school year