Editor’s Note: The following is an installment in a four-part series looking at three potential plans for Lebanon Middle School and the effects each has on student learning.
Two of the three potential plans to eliminate overcrowding at three elementary schools in Wilson County include going to a middle school concept and abandoning the current kindergarten- through eighth-grade scenario.
During a nearly 2 ½-hour long work session Saturday at the old Lebanon High School auditorium, the Wilson County Board of Education, along with Director of Schools Mike Davis fielded a flurry of concerns from parents, students, teachers and community members from all directions.
Architect Jason Moore offered three proposals for the future of middle school students who reside or will live in areas surrounding the Lebanon city limits. Among the proposals were alternate plans within each.
The plans include using the old Lebanon High School building to house a new Lebanon Middle School; making additions to Carroll Oakland, Southside and Tuckers Crossroads elementary schools; and building a new Lebanon Middle School building near the new Lebanon High School campus. Included within the course of action the board ultimately takes would be whether it keeps the three schools in question kindergarten through eighth-grade in format or moves to a middle school concept, such as what’s in place at Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central schools.
It appears the board is leaning toward a plan that would take 634 students currently in sixth- through eighth-grades at the three elementary schools and put them together in a middle school setting.
Davis indicated Saturday a middle school concept would better prepare students for high school and beyond. He said Explorer tests taken in eighth-grade and Plan tests during students’ sophomore year are precursors to the ACT tests taken during junior year. He said students will be denied college if they don’t make above a benchmark ACT score, beginning in 2014.
Davis also pointed out students at Carroll Oakland scored a C in science on the school’s latest report card, while Tuckers Crossroads’ students had all A’s and Southside students received all A’s and B’s.
“I can’t lie to you, they did do well,” Davis said. “But they could do so much better.”
Davis compared scores from the three elementary schools with Mt. Juliet Middle School, and said the middle school either equaled, or in some cases, outperformed the elementary schools in some areas.
But teachers in attendance, particularly from Tuckers Crossroads, were quick to point to an F that Mt. Juliet received in the value added category of science this year.
Davis said indicated a move to a middle school concept would be best, as the state now certifies teachers to teach either kindergarten through third-grades, fourth- through eighth-grades or ninth- through 12th-grades.
Board member Greg Lasater asked teachers present from the three elementary schools to stand, and they were all given resounding applause from the crowd.
According to the state report card, by comparison, West Wilson Middle School received a C in the same science category, having increased that grade from a D the year before.
“Our kids are just as smart as any in the world if given the opportunities,” said board chairman Don Weathers. “That’s what we’re here to do.
“I believe in at least boiling it down to the lowest common denominator. Is it a safer, usable facility? Is the middle school concept the best way to learn? Is it doable? Will the community accept it?”
Davis said by using the old Lebanon High School, it would allow students to use science labs they wouldn’t otherwise have access to at the three elementary schools. He said those labs could provide for more hands-on learning in that subject.
Ultimately, Davis and the board concluded Saturday’s meeting pledging to have a question-and-answer session at the school prior to January when the board is expected to make a decision on the future of Lebanon Middle School.
To get a closer look at the old Lebanon High School from Saturday’s tour, go to spotted.lebanondemocrat.com.
Director of content Jared Felkins may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 13 or firstname.lastname@example.org.