Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, all fifth grade students who would typically attend Buckeye and Melridge elementary schools will attend LaMuth Middle School. These fifth grade students will follow the LaMuth Middle School bell schedule (8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.) but still be taught a typical fifth grade elementary curriculum by fifth grade teachers. They will also still participate in specials as well as have time for recess.
Fifth graders attending Parkside and Riverview elementary schools will remain at their respective schools. Nothing will change for these students.
What led to this decision? For the last several years, the District has been leasing Hale Road from the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve to host its Preschool program. It has been a priority for the District to move Preschool back into one of our elementary buildings, as operating the program at Hale Road has presented many challenges. LaMuth Middle School currently has classrooms that are available for use. Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, these classrooms will be used for fifth grade students and staff from Buckeye and Melridge elementary schools. Freeing up classrooms at Buckeye and Melridge elementary schools will now allow space for us to operate our Preschool program in-house.
These moves are being made until a larger District-wide Facilities Master Plan is created and implemented. The District has been struggling with facility and enrollment issues for many years. In 2016, the District developed a three-phase Facility Plan that called for the construction of new buildings – while decommissioning our old, aging and outdated facilities. While Phase 1 of that Facilities Plan was implemented thanks to the passage of a Bond Levy, Phase 2 was not successful and the Board of Education and District Administration are currently working to create a revised plan to help solve facility and enrollment issues.
We understand that this is an unexpected change for Buckeye and Melridge families as these elementary students will make the transition to LaMuth one year earlier than anticipated. LaMuth Middle School Principal, Dr. Christopher Basich, and his staff will work to ease any concerns current 4th grade students or parents may have about transitioning to LaMuth, including setting up grade-wide visits to LaMuth this Spring and Open House(s) for students and families prior to the start of the 2024-2025 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Rateno and Principal Dr. Basich hosted Parent Informational Meetings on February 7 and February 13 at LaMuth Middle School for parents who had any questions or concerns. Many of those questions and answers can be seen below. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please reach out to us.
Q. Why is Hale Road no longer suitable for Preschool?
A. The District has been leasing Hale Road on a year-to-year basis from the Educational Service Center of the Western Reserve since 2021. Throughout the years, there have been concerns that the school is not conducive to the preschool population. The building is not handicap accessible, there is no accessible playground, there is no full-time administrator and unlike all our other schools in the District, there is no presence of a School Safety Officer on a daily basis. In addition, preschool classrooms are located on three separate floors at Hale Road which is not ideal for preschoolers.
Q. Why not just move Preschool to LaMuth to not disrupt the current elementary students? Or move the Preschool to another location?
A. LaMuth Middle School classrooms are not suitable for preschool-aged students without significant renovations and additions. We also feel pairing preschoolers with primary grades lends itself to more cooperative learning activities with kindergarten and assists in orienting children to elementary buildings.
Q. Will Buckeye/Melridge fifth graders now be considered middle school students?
A. Technically, yes. However, they will still be taught the same fifth grade curriculum as all other fifth graders in the District by fifth grade teachers.
Q. Are fifth graders being taught by middle school teachers?
A. Specials will be taught by properly licensed teachers and the rest of their schedule will still be taught by fifth grade teachers.
Q. Will there be a difference between fifth graders at Parkside/Riverview and fifth graders now at LaMuth?
A. The fifth-grade curriculum will remain the same across the District - no matter which school the fifth grader attends. Fifth Graders at LaMuth, however, will now be on a different day schedule of 8 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. as opposed to 9:10 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
Q. Is my fifth-grade student eligible for busing to LaMuth?
A. Like always, busing is available for any elementary student who lives outside a half-mile drive of his or her school. Some students who may not have been eligible for busing to Melridge and/or Buckeye, may now be eligible for busing to LaMuth. In addition, students eligible for busing to Melridge and/or Buckeye may not be eligible for busing to LaMuth. Should you have concerns about transportation, please contact our Transportation office.
Q. What about Latchkey for fifth graders at LaMuth Middle School?
A. Latchkey will still be provided for fifth graders. Details regarding Latchkey will be finalized closer to the start of the school year.
Q. Will fifth graders at LaMuth Middle School still have recess?
A. Yes, recess will still be built into the fifth-grade schedule.
Q. How will this affect Parent Group Organizations?
A. Parents of fifth graders who will be attending LaMuth Middle School, and are interested in helping out with a Parent Group Organization, can do so by joining AMSCO, which is LaMuth Middle School’s Parent Group Organization.
Q. What will the transition be like for current fourth graders who will now be going to LaMuth as fifth graders next school year?
A. Transitioning from elementary school to LaMuth Middle School is nothing new. The only thing that now changes is fourth graders at Buckeye and Melridge elementary school will be transitioning one year earlier. Typically, every year, ‘graduating’ elementary students are brought to LaMuth Middle School in the Spring to tour the building and hear from staff and the principal during a school day. There will also be communication between LaMuth Middle School administration and incoming parents about the transition process. In addition, LaMuth will host an Open House for students and families prior to the start of the 2024-2025 school year.
Q. Why are you transitioning Buckeye and Melridge fifth Graders to LaMuth and not Parkside or Riverview fifth graders?
A. Proximity and location to Buckeye and Melridge families is closest to Lamuth Middle School. In addition, it has been the District’s vision to eventually transition LaMuth Middle School to an elementary school - which would be zoned for current Buckeye and Melridge elementary students.
Q. Are there any other benefits to K-4 Buckeye or Melridge Students by these moves?
A. By moving Buckeye and Melridge 5th grade sections to LaMuth, specials at all four elementary schools will be closer to equal time as opposed to previous years where some specials at elementary schools were up to 10 minutes shorter than other elementary schools.
Q. Are there any cost savings to the District by making these moves?
A. Yes, the District will realize the following cost savings from making these moves:
- The District will no longer need to pay the ESC of the Western Reserve $35,000 per year to rent space at Hale Road Elementary.
- The District will no longer need to employ a full time custodian for the preschool program. The individual in this position will be reassigned to another vacant position within the District.
- The District will no longer need to employ a full time secretary/health aid for the preschool program. The individual in this position will be reassigned to another vacant position within the District.
- The District will no longer need to pay for weekly garbage pickup at Hale Road Elementary.
- The District will be able to utilize support personnel available at Buckeye and Melridge Elementary such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, etc. resulting in more efficient operations and reduced travel expenses from staff needing to travel from building to building.