NRHEG moves sixth grade

Published 11:51 am Thursday, January 19, 2012

ELLENDALE — The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva school board voted Tuesday night to move all sixth-graders to the high school building in New Richland from the overcrowded elementary building in Ellendale.

NRHEG Superintendent Kevin Wellen said space at the elementary school is tight, with four sections of kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades each have three sections.

“It’s always been tight on space,” Wellen said.

Email newsletter signup

At a school board meeting on Dec. 19 the board and Wellen discussed some options to deal with the overcrowding. They won’t know whether the next class of kindergartners will need four sections until registration, but if it does the school will be out of space. Wellen said moving sixth-graders to the high school seems to make the most sense, and the board voted to do so Tuesday at its meeting.

Enrollment at the elementary school with preschoolers through sixth-graders is 526 students. About 75 students would be moved if sixth-graders are moved to the high school. The high school with seventh- through 12th-graders has 413 students.

“Enrollment has increased, not huge numbers, but increases are increases,” Wellen said. “It’s a great problem to have.”

Right now seventh- and eighth-graders have their own separate wing in the school and only interact with upper classmen when walking to certain electives like music and art classes. Sixth-graders will be able to be housed in that wing, creating a sort of middle school. Students will have a separate lunch time from the upper classmen and be using a different gym.

“It’s our preference to keep sixth grade at the elementary but with space constraints we could make some very good accommodations so they’re still part of a middle school experience,” Wellen said.

The move will affect classroom teachers and other staff, special education programming, electives programming like music and art classes and more. Students wouldn’t be affected until the next school year starts. Wellen said the move will be permanent and said a “dramatic change” would be needed before sixth grade will be moved back to the elementary building.