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Woodmont Elementary’s K-8 transition should reduce dropouts

By MARGO HORNER

The Mirror

Woodmont Elementary will begin the move to a kindergarten through eighth-grade school beginning next fall.

K-8 programs reduce school dropout rates, support parental involvement and create a feeling of security in a smaller environment, said school board member Evelyn Castellar.

Superintendent Tom Murphy noted that most children have decided by the eighth grade whether they are going to drop out of school, and a K-8 program is likely to reduce the amount of children choosing that route.

In the first year, Woodmont will house sixth-graders, and that class will move up each year, with the school housing kindergarten through eighth grade in three years.

The switch will cost the school district about $300,000 over three years. The budget for next year is balanced and no programs were cut to implement the K-8 program.

“It does have a budget impact...however, it is an impact that we have planned into the budget,” Murphy said at a school board meeting May 8.

“This money is going to be well, well spent,” school board member Dave Larson said.

One community member at the meeting spoke against the K-8 program, saying the money could be better used elsewhere.

The school board voted unanimously to implement the program, prompting enthusiastic applause from a group of parents and teachers in the audience carrying a banner and waving balloons.

Twenty-four families have already committed to enrolling their children in the sixth-grade program at Woodmont next year.

District officials have not yet decided whether they will change the start and end times of classes at Woodmont.

Woodmont principal Donna Bogle said the school has plenty of room to house the additional students, which she estimates will total 75 to 90 after three years. The current enrollment at Woodmont is 390, down from almost 550 seven years ago.

“As with anything new, there are going to be challenges, but we’re excited about those challenges,” Bogle said. “It’s just going to be a great experience for the students and their families.”

Bogle has experience working at a K-8 school in the Edmonds School District. The smaller class sizes will benefit students, she said. With class sizes of about 30 students in each grade, it will be difficult for a student to get lost in the crowd.

Following a student from kindergarten through eighth grade will allow teachers to form a more personalized education.

“It’s going to be exciting to watch that growth,” she said.

Students in sixth, seventh or eighth grade will be eligible to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities at the local middle school, Sacajawea.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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