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Third and Fifth Graders Slated to Change Places at Oxford Center School

The Board of Education is slated to move the third graders at OCS, currently housed in the campus out-buildings, into the main building, and move the fifth graders, in turn, to the campus buildings this summer.

Come this fall, the third graders at ol will trade places with the fifth graders in the name of safety.

That’s because the Board of Education, after fielding concerns from parents over the last couple of years, decided that third graders, currently housed in the school’s campus buildings, will be moved under one roof in the school's main building. The fifth graders, in turn, will move from the main building into the campus buildings, which are separate classrooms located up a steep hill, alongside the school.

The move is slated to take place over the summer, said school board Chairwoman Rose McKinnon.

“The concern has been the transition of the younger students going from being all under one roof (in grades K-2) to the campus buildings (at OCS),” McKinnon said. “Parents have always been a little apprehensive.”

Oxford Center School houses students in grades 3-5.

McKinnon said the board wanted to make the move happen last year, but since that didn’t happen, she said plans are in the works to make the switch a reality once the current school year ends.

"Our goal here is more for transitional purposes,” she said. “I can relate because my kids went there, too.”

The board has heard complaints from parents, many who have expressed concerns about the third graders having to lug heavy backpacks up the hill, braving the elements, the potential of falling and how they are outside of their comfort zone of being housed under one roof as they did in second grade, she said.

McKinnon said the move makes sense since fifth graders, in general, are bigger in size and more mature, and would have an easier transition than the younger children.

“It’s also a pretty long walk (to the campus buildings) for students who have come from being under one roof,” McKinnon added. “I understand parents are concerned about that. But the school campus is very safe.”

She said any time third graders leave the campus buildings, for example, and need to go to the main building for gym or lunch, they are always accompanied by their teacher. And if a student needs to see the nurse, an adult monitor, equipped with a walkie talkie, accompanies that child from the campus building to the main building.

“It is safe, and we do have a monitor up there who directs the students,” McKinnon noted.

Monitors also accompany students if they have to be dismissed early from school, she said.

The campus buildings were originally placed at the school several years ago on a temporary basis to handle an influx of pupils, McKinnon said. But, she said, the campus buildings have remained out of necessity to accommodate a growing student population.

Moving the younger children to the main building is a relief for some parents, including the mom of an incoming third grader, who wished to remain anonymous.

“The kids are too young and too little to be expected to use the pods for their classrooms,” she said. “They are too far away from the main building and it creates issues with having them remember to carry their lunches down to the main lunch room. In bad weather, they have to dress up and dress down each time they change classrooms, and at that age they are a little slower at getting that done.

"They are coming into an environment where everything is under one roof and the classes are close together. If any grade has to be the one using those out-buildings, it should be the older kids who are familiar with the environment and are used to being at (OCS), are a little wiser and a bit more mature to handle the elements.”

Another mom, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said she, too, had similar concerns when her daughter was a third grader at OCS.

“I never understood why they had the third graders up there, and I absolutely agree that it’s a great idea to move them,” the mom said. “Plus, I was always concerned about the (smaller) kids having to walk up that steep hill, where they could slip and fall. Bigger kids are a little more aware of their surroundings, and a bit more mentally prepared than a third grader.”

The mom also noted she was concerned about the campus buildings so closely bordering the woods, which are not fenced in.

“With the woods right there, what would stop someone (from the outside) from walking right into the building,” she said.

Oxford Center School Principal Heath Hendershot declined to comment for this article.

anothermominoxford April 08, 2011 at 12:44 PM
So when is the move going to happen - "The move is slated to take place over the summer " said school board Chairwoman Rose McKinnon. or "plans are in the works to make the switch a reality once the current school year ends " Who is making the switch in regards to books, chairs, desks? Rumor has it it's the kids. Teachers don't have to do, once school is over, and the budget is frozen in regards to bringing in help; so again who is making the switch ? And if the current 3rd and 5th graders will be making the move, what makes the current 3rd graders any different from the upcoming 2nd graders in regards to the "Plus, I was always concerned about the (smaller) kids having to walk up that steep hill, where they could slip and fall " So it's ok for the current 3rd graders to walk up and down with books and furniture ? Also with the maturity of the upcoming 2nd graders - if they are not mature enough to handle the walk, how many of these kids play sports - pop football, flag football, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, karate; etc - those sports require a-bit of maturity, and yet they play, but they can not handle the transition to campus buildings, when this has been going in for many years ? Again these are just rumors in regards to who is making the move, but there has been NO clear answer given. Perhaps these concerned 2nd grade mom's may want to lend a hand !
Football Parent April 08, 2011 at 04:47 PM
This decision was handed down by the BOE and primarily the chairwoman. We pay very good money for professional, experienced educators to run our school system but this BOE and its chairwomen are ignoring them and making unilateral decisions. The town should know, without any experience or professional education, they are making direct decisions about education operations, usually at odds with the professionals. They have the legal authority, as their highly paid attorneys will back them up on, to implement their directives but it doesn't make it right or better. I understand and share the frustration with the public school system today but having agenda driven volunteers run the schools will not make things better. We need balance and open and honest dialog.
Amy Carlone Cote April 08, 2011 at 06:16 PM
The majority of classes in the main building are 4th grade. There are only 3 fifth grade classes and there are 2 third grade rooms there as well. Most of the fifth grade is already in campus rooms. Policy dictates that for medical reasons you have to keep at least one of each grade in the main building, which, if my elementary math is correct means 2 fifth grade rooms need to go "up the hill". There are currently 6 third grade classes using the campus rooms which means most of the 4th grade rooms in the main building will have to move as well. Also, because you contractually cannot have the teachers come in to move themselves over the summer, they will be moving before school lets out in June. Alll of the 3rd grade students since the portables were put in use in the 1950's have made the transition and have all survived surprisingly. These few parents need to cut the apron strings, request one of the current classes in the main building and stop micro managing what is a waste of time, effort and energy on the part of all the current students and staff at OCS
Jen April 08, 2011 at 08:02 PM
From an educators point of view, though I do not work in Oxford, it does make sense to have the older students housed in the portable classrooms. They are more responsible and mature to handle the walk with less impact on their educational time. Just because the third grades have been there for years does not mean it was right. As for moving, all furniture is removed from the classrooms during the summer for cleaning purposes. I just takes putting it back in a new place. Yes, teacher will have to box there belongings, but I highly doubt any student will be moving stuff. What Oxford needs to look at is the fact that the student population is growing and OCS is just no longer meets the needs of the students. The portable classrooms were meant to be temporary and have been in service for much too long.
anothermominoxford April 08, 2011 at 08:21 PM
So I wonder, since the BOE cares for the safety of our children, I think that eating ice cream causes brain freezes. I don't think that the 3rd graders are mentally ready for it. Should we eliminate that from the lunch menu ? Also why were not current OCS parents of 3rd, 4th & 5th grade students interviewed for this article. It seems that certain parents have some pull with BOE members, we know who they are looking out for.
Liza Zajac Whitehead April 08, 2011 at 10:14 PM
I'm thrilled to read this good news. My daughter was in a campus building for 3rd grade and LOVED it. She was so disappointed to be in the main building this year, for 4th grade. This move indicates she'll be back up the hill for 5th grade next year and that's great news to us. I wish she could have been up there for all three years!
MOM April 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
I think it's time for an orientation for the PARENTS who are transitioning into the third grade from QFS. They currently have an orientation program usually in May for the CHILDREN who are going into OCS but I think this article proves that it is the parents who are apprehensive about the "big move" and not the kids. I will say that when it was my child's turn to go to OCS from QFS, I was not crazy about the fact that he/she could potentially end up in a campus building. As luck would have it, we ended up in the main building for all three years at OCS. This past September my youngest child got put into a portable classroom. To calm my nerves (though I never showed it in front of the child), we made an appointment with the new teacher to come meet them and see where we would physically be. Did I mention they are air conditioned too??? Once the first day of school came, all I heard were stories of squirrels, acorns/pinecones on the ground, birds chirping, etc. My child LOVED it. Until you experience it you will be a little apprehensive but I don't think it's right to change the whole atmosphere for a few concerned parents, this happens every year. Also, music, art and math applications are only in the portable classrooms so they will have to leave the main building three times a week anyway; you can't leave them in a bubble forever. Keep the faith . . .
Paget Kidd April 09, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Well said, "MOM". I can't imagine what the purpose of this move is, other than to allay the fears of some vocal parents who have not had a child go through the "portable experience." It has been nothing but positive for my 3rd grader. If anyone needs these motor breaks during the day, it is the younger students. Also, although they have said the actual move will not happen during the school year, what about the packing? Piled up boxes in the corners of the classrooms is sure to be a distraction to kids. If the board wants this to happen so badly, maybe they should volunteer their time and come pack up the classrooms during the summer.
Citizen of Oxford April 09, 2011 at 11:43 AM
As far as this goes, "Also with the maturity of the upcoming 2nd graders - if they are not mature enough to handle the walk, how many of these kids play sports - pop football, flag football, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, karate; etc - those sports require a-bit of maturity, and yet they play, but they can not handle the transition to campus buildings, when this has been going in for many years ?" I agree. Our children in Oxford have been doing this for years and have been able to handle the way it currently is. However, just like you said, that is a RUMOR. And, most of the time rumors aren't true. But, just think about that one for just one second. Does it make any sense at all? No. They would never make the kids do something like that, especially since they won't even be there at all on the time they plan to make this move.
Citizen of Oxford April 09, 2011 at 11:47 AM
Parents these days worry way too much. They are worried about the children "lugging heavy backpacks up the hill, braving the elements." Unbelievable. They are getting older, its time for them to start to mature. And, plus, 1.) I've never seen our school system make the children go to school through a blizzard that the children would have to "brave." 2.) It says above, the children in the campus buildings are always accompanied by an adult.
Olya Fryz May 11, 2011 at 02:41 AM
I have to say that my kids loved being in the portables for their 3rd grade "experience" at Center School. They loved having air conditioning, and their own bathroom and their own outdoors where they could have their snack or their recess. It was a new experience and made them feel special. It's truely a lovely experience and although I was also nervous about it, it was great for the kids and very safe. There has never been a safety issue, ever. To expect the teachers to all make a move and change the configuration due to apprehension for a new situation seems really strange. It's sad that the principal or the teachers were not considered in this decision, even for their feedback, concerns or suggestions. This is a huge move and impacts the whole school and truly the whole community, which the Board is supposed to represent. I wish the Board would have at least consulted the Center School staff with their thoughts and concerns.

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