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White Plains Board of Ed Votes for Sixth-Grade Academy

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains Board of Education unanimously voted in a middle school redesign Monday that will make Eastview Middle School an all-sixth-grade academy and enroll all seventh and eighth-graders at Highlands Middle School beginning in fall of 2013.

Superintendent Christopher Clouet said the decision was the result of an extended dialogue with parents, students, teachers and administrators as well as researching and visiting nearby sixth-grade academies.

"You're going to see some big things coming out of this," he said. "As we build it into something that is really going to be very fruitful for the kids in our district, it's going to increase the level of support and enthusiasm."

After more rigorous state tests decreased middle schoolers' scores, a committee spent a year studying redesign strategies and recommended segregating all sixth-graders to help ease them into middle school. The new structure will also allow for a "block" schedule of 90-minute classes, which administrators argue will help students maximize their in-school learning. However, the redesign will eliminate the "choice program" that allowed families to indicate they would prefer their students attend a "small school setting" at Eastview.

School board Vice President Charlie Norris said "there are some real tradeoffs," but he felt the new structure's benefits would outweigh those.

"The middle school redesign is really in response to a couple of things, but one of the biggest things is the clamor that has gone on for years about getting the most out of what we have," he said. "We know we have areas that we need to grow in and advance in."

School board President Rosemarie Eller asked for the district to help support the administration as it made the transition.

"This is a new and bold direction for the district," said Eller. "I don't think anything is ever really easy that's going to embark on substantial gains. So we need, as we always have had, the support of everyone to make it work."

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