On Monday, the Peoria Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education voted 6-0 to change the grade levels at three of their schools, a change they plan to put into effect by next fall.
“We defiantly wanted to separate the young adults from the adolescents. Understanding that their learning journeys are very, very different,” Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said.
Per the vote, Harrison Primary and Trewyn Middle School will both become kindergarten through 8th grade schools while Manual Academy will go back to a traditional high school with 9th through 12th graders.
“It made a lot of sense from the families and staff perspective in the sense of the transition and the opportunity to continue to develop future relationships with the students,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.
Desmoulin-Kherat said moving the 7th and 8th graders out of Manual Academy will give them a “real middle school experience.” Though, there are mixed reactions from parents regarding that notion.
“The kids may not like it. They’re up with the big kids they prefer to stay with the big kids,” parent Gerisa Eppinger said.
“It’ll be good for them because they need a better middle school environment. Manual is a high school environment,” parent Bobby Green said.
The district is working to help those students transition.
“I know one school for example will be meeting with all the 8th graders and 7th graders individually, having conversations about needs, supports needed and we’re looking at providing different programming for them,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.
In 2009, PPS added 7th and 8th graders to Manual Academy, but they now believe this is the better option for those middle school aged students.
“I feel good about the k-8. our staff and our families like the k8 centers and ideas. They’re able to keep the families together as long as possible,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.