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School District planning changes

Over the next couple years the McCreary County School District could look a little different as the Board of Education looks at plans to consolidate some classes and move sixth-grade to the middle school.

The process will be gradual, and may take two to three years to accomplish, but would better align grades in to accountability groups when complete school officials said.

The first step would take place at the start of the next school year, but most students will not see any disruption as it takes place.

The Board of Education voted at their last meeting to approve the consolidation of Pine Knot Intermediate and Pine Knot Primary schools at the start of the next school year.

Pine Knot Elementary, as the “new” school will be called, will operate mostly as it had before – and students will not notice too many changes, other than the name and mascot. Plans are to keep the “Dragons” nickname, as is being used at PKI.

There are steps the District must undertake before such a move can be completed.

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Anderson said the District is waiting on approval from the state Department of Education to move forward.

The new school will consist of the two buildings, but will operate under only one principal, but administrative staff will be present at both sites.

Next, a new school code will have to be developed, and a new Site Based Decision Making Council formed.

Renovations, including a new roof at the primary school building are being planned, and will increase capacity for pre-school classrooms.

Under the new designation students from pre-school through third grade will be taught at the primary building, while fourth through sixth grades will be at the old intermediate school building.

The consolidation will pave the way for future changes in store that will have a larger impact on the entire district.

The ultimate goal is to move the sixth grade classes at both Whitley City Elementary and Pine Knot to the middle school, which will then have 6-8 classes under one roof.

Space is a concern with the move, as the middle school does not currently have enough classroom space to accommodate the additional grade level, so discussions are underway to develop plans to add a new wing to McCreary County Middle School. That project, which is at least one year away, will add the needed room to house sixth-grade students.

By bringing the sixth-grade classes from both Whitley City Elementary and Pine Knot Elementary to the middle school, it will create a true middle school and house all accountability groups in the same building, creating a better teaching environment.

Another item that would need to be addressed before the move can occur is where to locate the Intermediate School, and no formal plans are in place as of yet for that move.

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Anderson stated District officials are very conscientious of the concerns of students and their families about the potential changes and the idea is to implement it gradually to minimize distractions.

“We are approaching this in stages,” he said. “No grade levels will move at the start of the next school year. We want to have everything in place before we do that.

Anderson said the expected third and final phase of the changes will be the possibility of offering pre-school classes all-day, instead of the half-day program being used now.

The additional classroom space opened by the sixth-grade move out of the elementary schools will create more room for pre-school classes, which would allow the program to expand, something the Board has expressed their support of.

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