Grade level reconfiguration at Valmead and West Lenoir Elementary

LENOIR, NC (March 23, 2018)…At the March 12 Board of Education meeting, the School Board voted to reconfigure the grade levels served at Valmead Elementary and West Lenoir Elementary, a discussion that was introduced last June to parents, faculty and staff at both schools.

Students in grades Pre-K through 2 will attend Valmead Elementary School and all students in grades 3-5 will be enrolled at West Lenoir Elementary School. This grade level reconfiguration is effective next school year beginning in August of 2018.

“We have given both school communities the time to embrace this new concept, and overwhelmingly, the school administration, faculty and staff want to proceed with the reconfiguration plan,” said Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone. “Educators and parents alike see this as an opportunity to reinvigorate their school environment, secure more resources for each classroom and provide a professional, collaborative exchange among teachers.”

Parents, faculty, staff and community partners attended public meetings last summer and provided input on the proposed reconfiguration plan. In an effort to give stakeholders ample time to conceptualize and adapt to the new redesign, Dr. Steve Stone tabled the proposed action until this school year. He reintroduced the reconfiguration plan at the regular Board of Education meeting in March, and it was approved by a 6-1 vote.

Presently, these two high poverty elementary schools face similar challenges of declining enrollment, fluctuating low performance, and dwindling resources for non-tested areas. Due to new state legislation governing classroom size, they also have no alternative but to continuously combine grade levels.

As the school district begins the implementation process, adjustments to school bus transportation will be minimized, since there is only a three-mile distance from each location and the student attendance areas are practically overlapping. Parent meetings will be held prior to the end of this school year to discuss possible bus route modifications, potentially new bus stops or necessary bus shuttles.

Since the start of this school year, both principals have coordinated joint activities and meetings with students, parents and staff to encourage friendships, to build professional relationships and to create consensus as schools transition to the new models.

“This concept that has been successfully introduced in other districts, and we are excited to offer it in the Caldwell County Schools,” said Stone. “We owe it to these schools to implement a positive change that will bring about new ideas, a clearer focus and a fresh start for teachers and for every student.”

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