Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fairfield-Suisun district eyes Nelda Mundy change

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From page A5 | January 15, 2014 | 13 Comments

FAIRFIELD — About 284 sixth-graders from schools including Nelda Mundy Elementary would move to Green Valley Middle School in the 2015-16 school year if Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees approve the proposed change Thursday – a proposal that has spurred a parent’s online petition opposing the student transfer.

Annette Thurman said keeping Nelda Mundy a K-6 school rather than sending sixth-graders to Green Valley avoids moving children into the adolescent world of middle schools.

“We talk about kids growing up early,” Thurman said. “A lot of that happens because we put them in environments where they have to grow up.”

Moreover, student grades and test scores decline in middle school, said Thurman, whose petition at www.change.org listed 268 signers Monday night.

Parents want to keep children at Nelda Mundy, she said, and their opposition involves no concerns about Green Valley.

“Green Valley Middle School is one of the best middle schools you can go to in the county,” Thurman said.

Fairfield-Suisun Superintendent Kris Corey said the recommendation to convert Oakbrook Elementary to a K-8 elementary and change Cordelia Hills and Nelda Mundy into K-5 schools comes to trustees after a great deal of consideration. The initial discussion on this change started more than four years ago, Corey said in an email.

Trustees then approved a transition of all middle schools to grades 6-8 and all elementary schools to become K-5 schools. Trustees, she said, conducted a two-hour study session two months ago on school district facilities.

Representatives of various departments in the school district will speak Thursday about why the recommendation was made, Corey said.

“Everything from traffic to educational performance was considered in our recommendation,” the superintendent said. “We also reviewed various school districts throughout the county and neighboring counties to see what configurations exist. Ours is the only district with both K-5 and K-6 schools.”

The majority of the middle school students in Fairfield-Suisun attend middle schools for sixth through eighth grades, Corey said, and  B. Gale Wilson is phasing to become a grades 6-8 middle school.

“With every decision, there are pros and cons,” she said. “We are recommending this configuration to our governing board because we believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

Advantages include mirroring how Common Core State Standards are organized as well as better balancing populations of elementary and middle schools, the superintendent said.

Proposed transfers to Green Valley include 131 students from Nelda Mundy and 109 students from  Cordeila Hills.

Trustees meet at 6 p.m. in Board Room No. 108 at the school district offices, 2490 Hilborn Road in Fairfield.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect that 284 students from schools including Nelda Mundy Elementary may move to Green Valley Middle School.

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Discussion | 13 comments

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  • LarbudJanuary 14, 2014 - 8:41 am

    If those "advantages" at the end of the article are your best reasons, then this is obviously a bad plan! This actually looks like a punishment for the tremendous success Mundy has had. If you have ever been to the 8th grade promotion ceremony at Green Valley you would see that a large majority of students being honored came from Mundy. They go to 7th grade fully prepared for middle school. As a parent with kids at Mundy and Green Valley I can tell you one thing, the teachers, staff and parents at Mundy are a perfect example of how a school should be. They are involved and truly care about the kids. and it shows in their success. In my experience at Green Valley it all falls apart. We have experienced a near total lack of interest by the teachers and administrators in the kids education, parent involvement is not encouraged. Teacher accountability is nonexistent, and administrators are unresponsive. So yea...lets take the best students/teachers in the county and take away that 6th grade year and put it in the hands of those far less capable. My 3rd grader would say that only makes sense on Opposite Day! There is NOTHING wrong with the system as is. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

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  • Rick WoodJanuary 14, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    This change actually complies with a policy the FSUSD Board set 20 years ago. Because I was on the Board at that time and supported the policy, I feel compelled to chime in and say my views are unchanged. The arguments against are always the same, led by parents of 5th graders who are concerned about their child's exposure to 7th-8th grade students. The arguments for are based on academic research, notably the state report "Caught In the Middle." It's good to see the staff and Board together to move the policy forward after so many years.

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  • Mr. SmithJanuary 14, 2014 - 1:53 pm

    Reminds me of the time several years ago when the school board was discussing sending Oakbrook 6th graders to the old Green Valley Middle School. To stymie this, one of the parents in opposition to the move called the State Department of Education and reported that the middle school was situated on or near an earthquake fault and should be closed. (True). Moral: Don't mess with protective parents. They will move heaven and earth to have their way. Lol!

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  • LarbudJanuary 14, 2014 - 3:14 pm

    So can anyone demonstrate that this change would be beneficial academically for the students? Isn't that what is most important?

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  • Mr. SmithJanuary 14, 2014 - 4:52 pm

    What's up with the K-8 recommendation for Oakbrook? Another earthquake fault discovered? Deja vú all over again?

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  • Rick WoodJanuary 14, 2014 - 8:44 pm

    Mr.S: Yes, despite the headline, the district is proposing changes to more than one school. Green Valley MS will become 6-8 and Oakbrook will become K-8. This plan involves more than Nelda Mundy. I support, K-5, K-8, and 6-8.

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  • REALLY?January 15, 2014 - 10:10 am

    Rick, I ask as kind as possible, please spare us your comments. I question your investment in this matter and really don't care what you did or should have done 20 years ago. Your story is long and over. Moving on in the here and now. Thank you

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  • Mr. SmithJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:03 am

    Rick: I have no problem with the K-8 configuration, per se. I am just curious about the circumstances for the recommendation this time around, remembering that the Oakbrook folks stirred up such a storm over the proposed move of their 6th graders to the old Green Valley Middle several years ago. Probably a coincidence, but one could argue that this time they are keeping their 6th graders home (i.e., "protecting them") as well as their 7th and 8th graders if this recommendation goes through. Hopefully, REALLY? will not be too discomfitted by this reference to the past. Must be a millennial, or something:>)

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  • Rick WoodJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:44 pm

    Mr.S: There may be some truth in what you say, but I'll take it.

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  • Rick WoodJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:42 pm

    Dear REALLY Anonymous: My purpose is not to reenter the fray but rather to stand up for the district's plan in hopes others will chime in too. I'm glad to see our Anonymous Teacher join in. If people like me won't speak up, we can't expect others to do so and the field will be left to the naysayers. It's part of the price you pay for winning an election, even if a long time ago.

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  • L.January 15, 2014 - 8:29 am

    How much are these reconfigurations going to cost? Having "saved" $800,000 closing Sullivan, the district turned around and decided to spend about $9,000,000 to build additional classrooms at B. Gale Wilson, Laurel Creek, Suisun and David Weir to reconfigure those schools to accommodate the 7-8 grades displaced in part by closing Sullivan and to carry out someone's pet project.

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  • ShirleyJanuary 15, 2014 - 9:08 am

    Schools all around the country are K-5, 6-8 & 9-12. I don't see a problem with it. I thought this was the norm until I moved into this area. Not sure if this is just a rumor but I have heard news last week that Laurel Creek is not building 7th grade now?

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  • Anonymous TeacherJanuary 15, 2014 - 8:24 pm

    The advantages outweigh the disadvantages in that by moving 6th grade to the Middle Schools they will have more room at the Elementary levels to allow for reduced class sizes in the Primary grades. Right now K-3 grades can have up to 32 students which is not at all beneficial to the kids. Before the budget cuts in 2007 there was a 20:1 ratio. It is very challenging to give them the attention they need and deserve with a 32:1 ratio. The proposal for a performing arts school that will be K-8 at Oakbrook is to help make more room for 6-8 Grade Level because Green Valley probably can't take them all and Oakbrook enrollment is lower than some of the other schools in the district. Plus, with the lack of music and performing arts at the Elementary level it would be nice for students to have the opportunity to go to a school that offers that choice if others can't. When you look at the numbers, 243 students are moved to another school which may seem like a disadvantage to them and their parents, but the approx. 800 primary students at the schools that would benefit from lower class sizes makes sense for the greater number.

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