Sixth graders could move to Oak-land Jr. High one year early

Sixth graders from Valley Crossing and Lake Elmo Elementary could possibly be moved to Oak-Land Jr. High for the 2016-17 school year. This move would ease the stress of the grade shift in the fall of 2017 and to ease overcrowding issues at Lake Elmo Elementary.

Parents of sixth graders at Valley Crossing are concerned about next year when South Washington County School District takes over Valley Crossing Elementary. They would like a place in the Stillwater School District for their kids to go, so they can stay within the district. Moving students from Lake Elmo Elementary will help with an overcrowding problem at the elementary school.

The purpose of this move is to allow Valley Crossing students to go through one less transition period. Oak-land Jr. High Principal Andy Fields said, “It makes sense right now to look at the Valley Crossing students that are current fifth graders that are potentially going to have a transition from District 916, which is currently the management side of Valley Crossing, to ISD 833 which is South Washington County. Instead of having those fifth grade students go through that transition and then the next year, 2017-18, come to Stillwater schools.”

Reasons for moving students from Lake Elmo Elementary would be to ease the issue of overcrowding in the school. “There is a lot of housing that is going in, or is about to go in over the next year. When we look at the projected enrollment for next year, we will be well over 800. Currently we have about 770 students, which is quite a bit over our capacity,” Lake Elmo Elementary School Principal Stephen Gorde said.

The plan for this shift is to have 5 classrooms, lockers, a brand new science lab, and a room for students with IEP’s in a separate area at Oak-land Jr. High for the future sixth grade students to have different teachers for multiple subjects. Sixth graders would also have access to the music and physical education programs along with higher level math classes for the students whose test scores support a higher level class.

Michelle Tague, mother of a sixth grader at Valley Crossing Elementary said, “I think it gives more opportunities than Valley Crossing, we have two sixth grade classes. They [The sixth graders] don’t get the opportunity to class shift like they do at Lake Elmo. It will give them more of an opportunity to start that process of the class shifting that they do when going into Jr. High.”

Future sixth graders at Oak-land would have many more course options and extracurricular options than they would at an elementary school. Mother of a sixth grader at Lake Elmo Elementary Katie Yates said, “It actually gives them more options, my daughter is excelling at math right now and she would have more course options.”

Paula Kersten, another mother of a sixth grader at Lake Elmo said, “They’re going to have three classes at Lake Elmo next year, so why not move to the Jr. High and have four classes to do the four core subjects and also have a bigger space.”

Sixth graders that would be at Oak-land would have the opportunities to take elective classes like art, choir, band, orchestra and phys-ed. They would also have the opportunity to use the fitness rooms and the pool.

Current fifth grader at Valley Crossing Elementary, Sarah Tague is excited about the possible move to Oak-Land.

“I’m already doing sixth grade stuff at Valley Crossing so I think it will be more of a challenge,” she said. She is looking forward to possibly learning algebra and meeting new people.

Shifting the future sixth graders from Valley Crossing Elementary and Lake Elmo Elementary to Oak-land Jr. High would give the Valley Crossing students a way to be included in the district without having to go through as many school changes. It would also help solve the overcrowding problem at Lake Elmo Elementary. The sixth graders would benefit from the new array of opportunities at Oak-land Jr. High and they would have many elective and extracurricular options.