By SEAN ROWLEY
Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education voted during their regular meeting Monday to close the Fifth Grade Center at the middle school and move the grade back to the elementary schools.
The vote was unanimous after more than a year of study by district superintendent Lisa Presley and others of reconfiguring the elementary sites.
“This reconfiguration very similar to the opinions we received from parents,” Presley said during her report to the board. “Many perspectives were included. We had a stakeholders committee, added to the committee and received public input. I believe it was a good process.”
Under the plan, the current fourth grade students will remain at their respective elementary schools in the fall to attend fifth grade. The TMS Fifth Grade Center will be shuttered, which Presley said “will create some savings.”
The reconfiguration leaves Sequoyah Elementary as a prekindergarten center. During the study, several parents and teachers expressed support for maintaining Sequoyah’s status.
“We will continue to study Sequoyah for the next one to three years,” Presley said.
“We want to see if it is even feasible to move the pre-K students to the elementary sites.”
Presley said the district might look at increasing enrollment at Sequoyah.
“It would benefit the children educationally and the district fiscally,” she said. “We believe there may be 100 students in the district who can attend pre-K but do not. They may be in a Head Start program somewhere, or they may be at home. We would like to look at enrolling them in pre-K.”
During her report, Presley also discussed making up school days lost to the recent winter weather.
Because Tahlequah students attend school 30 minutes longer per day than required by the state, Presley said the district need not make up snow days, but will nonetheless make up some days to “recover losses in time of instruction.”
Tentative plans - further snow days could change the calendar - call for scheduling school days on March 13-14 and using the “built-in” snow day of April 18 to recover three of the five lost days.
The board also unanimously approved the consent docket, which included fundraisers by THS Pom for gift wrapping services, a poinsettia sale by the THS Band, quotes to replace the boiler and air handler - which date to 1968 - at Greenwood Elementary, the scheduling of board meetings on the second Monday of each month in 2014, and the setting of the THS graduation ceremony for May 23.
The accounting firm of Jack H. Jenkins CPA delivered the financial audit for the 2012-13 academic year, of which the board unanimously acknowledged receipt.
The board also heard the financial report, and reports from Bethany McDonald about Oklahoma Parents as Teachers, from DeAnn Mashburn about the Healthy Relationships During Adolescence program, and from Mashburn and Anita Lightcap about professional development efforts.
After executive session, the board was scheduled to approve the temporary hiring of three support staff and a library media specialist.
The next regular meeting of the TPS board is Monday, Jan. 13, at 6:30 p.m., in the conference room of the Tahlequah Board of Education building, 225 N. Water..