The Globe Unified School District board voted unanimously to approve housing fifth grade at Copper Rim next year. The decision was met with applause from the crowd of families, teachers, and staff at Wednesday’s board meeting in the Copper Rim cafeteria.
Immediately prior to the board meeting, they held a study session, in order to hear comments from the public about the proposed move. GUSD superintendent Jerry Jennex opened the study session by addressing the facilities issues at High Desert Middle School. “It is our newest building. It was built in 2004, but it has many challenges,” said Jennex. “One of the biggest challenges being that our tile floor has degenerated and deteriorated in the building. So, over the long term, that is a situation that needs to be remedied. When we were talking about that, one of the solutions that came up was the potential of having fourth graders this year stay next year at Copper Rim.” According to Jennex, the district hopes that remediation work will take place to address the floors next year.
Copper Rim Principal Brian Peace shared statistics pertinent to the proposed move related to bus ridership, lunches, and recess. He explained that the projected enrollment for next year, including fifth grade and pre-school was around 850. It is currently around 724, including preschool. According to Peace, during the 80s and 90s Copper Rim’s enrollment fluctuated between 850 to almost 1000 students. Peace circulated a map which included the proposed fifth grade classrooms and noted that after making room for the new classes, there were still two extra rooms. “I’m hoping that having fifth grade here will increase our level of student leadership opportunities,” said Peace.
The Copper Rim student council president and treasurer conducted a survey of fourth grade students, which they presented to the board. Eighty-three of the students surveyed wanted to stay at Copper Rim and 16 wanted to go to High Desert.
Parents at the meeting shared their support of keeping fifth grade at Copper Rim, citing reasons such as: it is more developmentally appropriate for the fifth grade to be with other elementary school students, it would shorten their school day, it would allow them to take advantage of the playground equipment at Copper Rim. Although they didn’t oppose the move, some parents raised concerns about how it would affect traffic at Copper Rim.
Kelly Williams, a fourth grade teacher at Copper Rim said that she supported the move, citing how young many of her fourth graders are. “Being barely ten years old you still need to be in an elementary school setting,” said Williams. Cindy Owens, a current fifth grade teacher at High Desert expressed some concern about class size, although she also backed the move. The district plans to divide the roughly 108 fifth graders into four classes next year.
GUSD Board President Frankie Dalmolin stressed that the approval would cover only one year and after a year, the district would evaluate what was and was not working with the arrangement. Dalmolin called the move a “one year pilot.”
Autumn Giles is a freelance writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in Edible Baja Arizona, Modern Farmer, Punch, Serious Eats, and elsewhere. Her first book, Beyond Canning was published in February 2016.