Manoa school keeps its sixth-graders
Sixth-graders can stay at Manoa after parents say they were misled
The state Department of Education will allow Manoa Elementary School to keep its sixth-grade program until 2013, after parents of students alleged they were misinformed when they voted last year to discontinue the grade level.
Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto proposed the extension in a letter Monday, and Manoa school officials and parents accepted it in a meeting yesterday afternoon, said Principal Jeanette Uyeda.
The agreement means the current kindergarten class at Manoa Elementary will be the last to attend sixth grade at the school.
In her letter to the school and the Board of Education, Hamamoto said minutes of Manoa's School Community Council meetings and interviews with parents and staff showed that the vote taken in June "appears to be based on incomplete information."
Last month, a dozen upset parents testified before the school board, asking for help in reversing their decision to relocate sixth-graders to Stevenson Middle School in the 2007-08 school year. Some parents acknowledged they did not want to send their kids to Stevenson because of its lower test score record.
Parents argued they backed the move only because they thought it was mandated by a board policy that required the school to make improvements it could not afford if it opted to retain the sixth-grade program. The school's community council changed its recommendation in November.
The policy in question, Middle Level Education Policy No. 2406, was approved by the school board on July 12, 2001. Its goal is to help with the placement of sixth-graders in middle schools while ensuring the physical, social and emotional needs of adolescents.
While elementary schools, through meetings with principals, parents and teachers, can decide on whether to follow the policy, the Department of Education supports it because it believes sixth-graders tend to share more mentally and physically with seventh- and eighth-graders than with their peers in lower grades.
Greg Knudsen, Department of Education spokesman, said this was the first time a school stopped the relocation of its students. He stressed that parents of Manoa students can still choose to enroll their children at Stevenson.
"The parents were confused by it, and perhaps the initial decision wasn't made on complete information. They were given the benefit of the doubt," he said. "From this point, incoming students will know from the start that they are going to be attending a K-5 school. But for anyone who is there now, they will be allowed to continue" through sixth grade.
Statewide, 72 schools have switched to a kindergarten-to-fifth-grade model, compared with 95 that remain K-6, according to the Department of Education.
Uyeda said she would now have to revise her school's finances because she had expected to lose $619,000 in funding by ending sixth grade. Although some parents have already enrolled fifth-graders from Manoa in private schools and other public schools, she is hoping to sign up at least 60 students to comprise two sixth-grade classes. Meanwhile, Stevenson Middle Principal Gregg Lee, who had expected to gain the additional money under the Weighted Student Formula, will need to scale back his budget, said Raelene Chock, superintendent for the McKinley-Roosevelt complex area.
"Some of the plans that have already been submitted would have to be revised based on the new allocation and projection for enrollment," she said. "We'll find ways to support him as well."