Dear RISD Parents and Community,
I hope this message finds you well as we enter the holiday season. I want to raise your awareness and provide information about the recent RISD committee that has been formed to study the possibility of moving sixth grade to junior high campuses and adopting a middle school model in our district.
As you may be aware, our RISD Board of Trustees adopted a Strategic Plan in 2018 that was crafted by six strategic action teams after study throughout the 2017–18 school year. As part of the plan, the Facilities Strategic Action Team made the recommendation that the district study this idea as a solution to mitigate space concerns at some of our elementary schools, as well as provide sixth graders access to extracurricular opportunities in fine arts, athletics, and other areas of interest.
While those considerations are certainly important, I believe that any decision about grade configurations should also be made while considering what is best for students academically. To that end, I asked the Learning Design Strategic Action Team to form a grade configuration committee to begin the work of studying the best learning environment for sixth graders in RISD. Parent and educator representatives from all four of our high school area learning communities will research and study this issue over the next several months.
Here are some important things to know as this committee prepares to begin its work:
- This process is in its earliest stages, and we are months away from any decisions or recommendations being made.
- Parents and educators will research and weigh the pros and cons to eventually arrive at a recommendation to our Board of Trustees to either remain with our current configuration or take steps to move sixth graders to a middle school model.
- Once the committee develops comprehensive pros and cons, that information will be shared with all parents, along with a broad opportunity to provide input through a parent/community survey.
- Since there isn’t currently space at our existing junior highs to accommodate sixth graders under a middle school model, if the decision is eventually made to move toward this grade configuration, it would require extensive construction and preparation over a number of years.
- As the grade configuration committee progresses through its work, we are committed to keeping parents and community members updated.
If I have learned anything during my tenure in RISD, it is the importance of parent and community input and open lines of communication. If I can alleviate any concerns or angst through information and explanation, I want to do that. Thank you for your partnership and support of our schools.
Dr. Jeannie Stone