Plan could put 7th, 8th graders at high school during Paynter work


Baldwin-Whitehall School District

Should students return to school full time? Two staff members weigh in.

Elizabeth Perston and Lena Barakat

Under the most likely plan to deal with upcoming construction at Paynter elementary school, seventh- and eighth-graders would come to the high school next year, with Paynter students going to the middle school, Supt. Dr. Randal Lutz said.

The district has five possible plans for dealing with the relocation of Paynter students while a new school is being built. Initially, moving some of the Paynter students to the first floor of the high school was considered, but Lutz said the plan moving seventh- and eighth-graders here makes sense for a number of reasons.

He said students in those grades would be easier to integrate with the high school students in the building, while moving Paynter students here would require keeping the younger students away from the high school students as much as possible.

“There is less of an issue with isolating the younger kids this way,” Lutz said. “It’s better for everyone.”

Moving seventh- and eighth-grade students — and their teachers — up to the high school will also allow better communication between middle and high school teachers, Lutz said.

“We could get better at the instruction side of things, and eliminate any dissonance between middle and high school courses,” Lutz said.

The plan is still being refined, he said.

“We’re trying to be transparent enough that people understand what’s going on and why we’re doing it,” Lutz said.

In several years, after construction of a new Paynter building is finished, seventh grade likely would return to the middle school, while eighth grade might remain at the high school, under the plan. 

Before the seventh and eighth grades would come to the high school, administrators would be looking at ways to bring everyone together and to build a sense of community, high school Principal Shaun Tomaszewski said.

“My main goal would be to make the seventh- and eighth-grade students feel like they’re part of the culture of this school,” Tomaszewski said.