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Changes coming to Muskogee schools as board approves redistricting

Posted at 9:33 PM, Mar 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 09:27:06-04

MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- Changes are coming to Muskogee Public Schools with hundreds of students shifting to different campuses in an effort to improve learning environments in the district.

Around 30 community members have met for several months as the Long Range Planning Committee, working on recommendations to improve Muskogee schools.

"Some of them hate to leave their schools but that’s just change you know?" said Kristi Hoos, a Muskogee parent and member of the Long Range Planning Committee.

The recommendations they came up with are removing all sixth graders from elementary schools and putting them in the Grant Foreman elementary school building. They also recommended taking seventh and eighth graders from Alice Robertson Junior High and moving them to Ben Franklin Science Academy.

Ben Franklin Science Academy was built to be a junior high school with a capacity of about 1,000 students, and right now they only have about 350.

"I have a sixth grader right now and he’s ready to be in his own center, the lower grades are just littler than they are right now," said Hoos.

Alice Robertson Junior High will be vacant in the 2019 to 2020 school year. Administrators hope the 80-year-old building can get some much needed improvements.

"Heat and air, ventilation systems, just a lot of things we need to do to that building to get it up to speed," said Dr. Jarod Mendenhall, Superintendent of Muskogee public schools.

The nearly 800 current students at Grant Foreman and Ben Franklin will be dispersed into six elementary schools depending on where they live. Parents can go to the district's website and go to "Locate My School" map under quick links to see where their student will go next year.

The 80 staff members at the two elementary schools will put down their top three choices for schools they'd like to move to.

"I applaud people coming and being involved and actually speaking up and asking those questions because I want to answer them and try to help them as best as I can," Dr. Mendenhall.

The start and end times for elementary and secondary schools will also swap. Younger kids will go from 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. and the older students will go to school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"On a Saturday morning they’re up and ready at 6 a.m. so that’s one of the things we know about the research, is that elementary students learn much better earlier in the morning," said Dr. Mendenhall.

All recommendations were approved at Tuesday night's board meeting. These changes will go into effect this for the 2019 to 2020 school year. The next step is getting a bond issue approved for those repairs at Alice Robertson Junior High.

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