No eighth grade at CMS next year

Chester Middle School’s rising eighth graders will not share the Chester Middle building with Thomas Dale High School’s freshman class next year.

On Feb. 23, the School Board voted to redistrict Chester Middle’s rising eighth graders, along with their rising seventh- and sixth-grade peers, to Carver and Elizabeth Davis middle schools. Originally, the board approved a plan that left the rising eighth graders in the Chester middle building next year with Thomas Dale’s ninth grade, which will be moved to the building to alleviate overcrowding at the high school.

At a Feb. 15 public hearing on a proposed redistricting map, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Administration Ed Pruden cited several factors for officials to consider, including increased transportation costs and limited student elective choices and extracurricular activities, if an eighth grade were to remain at Chester Middle. Also, the committee formed to review the proposed boundary changes unanimously agreed that the rising eighth graders should be redistricted to Carver and Elizabeth Davis, he said.

At the Feb. 23 meeting, the board also approved new attendance boundaries for Carver and Elizabeth Davis. For the most part, Chester middle students who live east of the CSX railroad tracks will attend Elizabeth Davis, and those who live west of the tracks will attend Carver. School spokesman Shawn Smith said Friday that one change was made to the original proposal so the neighborhood that includes Richmond and Percival streets would be entirely in the Elizabeth Davis district.

Now that Chester Middle’s students have been redistricted, school officials are working on students’ schedules and employee placement for next year, he said.

Also at the Feb. 23 meeting, the School Board approved a revised spending plan for next year that will eliminate roughly 190 jobs, about 114 fewer than Superintendent Marcus Newsome proposed in his original budget.

The revised budget calls for teachers and employees at grade 43 and below to take a 2 percent pay cut, employees at grade 44 and higher to take a 3 percent cut. In the original budget, cuts for both groups were 1 percentage point higher.

The revised budget spares 44 special education positions, nine reading teachers, 38 elementary secretaries, 12 security monitors and 10 high school deans and middle school administrative assistants, which were among the jobs on the chopping block in the original spending plan.

The revised budget calls for increasing the pupil-teacher ratio by one, which will eliminate 112 positions. Nine, rather than six, central office positions will be cut, and 50 instructional assistant jobs will be eliminated, according to the revised budget.

Perrymont Middle School will be closed, rather than moved, eliminating 16.5 jobs, and seven facility coordinators and three elementary assistant principals will be cut. Sixteen school resource officers will be cut, but 18 new security monitors will be added, according to the revised budget.

All capital projects, except for the renovations at Robious Middle, Swift Creek Middle and Salem Church Middle, will be deferred for two years.

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