LKSD Considers Shuffling Bethel Schools

by Ben Matheson on March 25, 2014

Bethel school administrators are in the early stages of studying a rearrangement of Bethel’s schools to create a middle school, a 9-12 high school, and a combined elementary school.

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Jacob Jensen is the Superintendent of the Lower Kuskokwim School District. He says after a fire last fall destroyed a portable classroom at ME, the administration took the opportunity to look at how the grades are organized.

“The way that we’re currently constituted really is not the best for kids, so we started looking at what those different options might be to rearrange the students,” said Jensen.

In the arrangement presented to parents, the K-4 Elementary school would be at the Kilbuck building, a 5th through 8th grade middle school would be based at the Gladys Jung, while grades 9-12 would remain at BRHS. Kuskokwim Learning Academy would be based in the Armory building. And the immersion school would be at the ME building.

“We’d really like to have a cohesive elementary model. We’d really like to have a middle school that included grade level teaming, and then we’d like to have a comp high school with expanded opportunities. And so how can we get at that? That’s kind of where these discussions are, and it was the subject of the parent meeting we had a few weeks ago.” said Jensen.

The district is not looking at anything for next year, the earliest possible would be in the fall of 2015.

“The research is showing us that as far as grouping kids at a k-4, 5-8 works well for educationally for reading. 5-8 works well for a middle school, and having the students in a 9-12 comprehensive high school would really be advantageous for the kids,” said Jensen.

District officials are meeting soon about possible next steps. That could include a hard look at the financial impact of moving, talking with the board, or holding another parent meeting.

“We’re not out trying to sell anything to the community, we’re simply trying get information to see if there is a desire in the community to look at change. That’s where we are, we’re not even and the point we’ve decided we’re going to move forward, we’re still trying to gather input,” said Jensen.

Jensen says the best way to provide input is by talking to their principal. The contact information and a document from the parent meeting is available here.

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