North Hills junior-senior high revamp raises concerns
When the North Hills School District administration announced this year the possibility of realigning the neighboring junior and senior high schools, questions surfaced.
"My biggest concern is that the student and teacher transition happens smoothly," said Sandra Miller, a librarian at the North Hills Senior High School, after attending the first community meeting regarding the proposal. "Sometimes because you can do something doesn't mean you should."
To address concerns from students, faculty members, parents and residents, senior high school Principal John Kreider led a presentation Monday evening in the senior high auditorium.
"We make good decisions when in the best interest of the students," Kreider said. "We have great kids and great families who send us their kids."
The junior high school houses grades seven through nine while 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders attend the senior high building next door. Certain classes are open to students from both buildings, allowing them to commute back and forth.
The realignment would move the ninth-graders into the senior high building, allowing them to get the full high school experience while freeing space at the junior high, Kreider said. That space could be utilized by moving a department to the junior high building.
"We need to maximize the level of services and maintain the level provided to the students," Kreider said. "We need to examine how we can use the two facilities in a creative fashion."
Voicing their concerns
If the realignment occurs, parents could expect changes as early as the 2012-13 school year.
Despite the plans laid out at the meeting, ninth-grade math teacher Joe Warnock is concerned about overloading the buildings.
"My biggest concern is the use of the facilities and overcrowding," Warnock said. "I want to make sure we have the proper amount of space."
Other faculty members and parents raised similar concerns regarding class sizes, space at both buildings and the effect the realignment will have on teachers. Kreider said there is enough space to accommodate ninth-graders at the senior high and the proposal will not cause any fluctuation in class sizes or teaching staff.
"This shouldn't have any impact on staff," Kreider said. "There is still the same number of teachers and kids."
Five committees have been created to allow faculty and parents to discuss issues concerning curriculum, faculty, student services and the buildings. The committees will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9 at the junior high school and report back as a group during a community meeting on Nov. 15 at the senior high school.
"We need to continue the dialogue and make sure to get all questions onto the table," said Assistant Superintendent Pat Manarnio. "This was positive no matter what direction we go with this. We welcome as much input as we can."
Despite her concerns, Miller is optimistic about the future of the district.
"The principal is really good and they do listen," said Miller, who has a child in seventh grade. "The district really does care about kids."