Junior High Approach A Cheaper Option


At the risk of over-simplifying a complex issue, it's painfully obvious why Rim Country Middle School will once again be a junior high.

The reason is money -- junior high schools are cheaper to operate than middle schools.

When the decision was made last spring to switch RCMS to a junior high as it once was, there was plenty of rhetoric among teachers, parents and administrators about the reasons behind the move.

There were those, including school administrators, who argued the junior high model was better than a middle school concept.

Principal Frank Larby found research that said "separate elementary schools and middle schools can cause transition problems for students that can negatively affect their developmental and academic progress."

Larby contends that a junior high can offer more diverse programs using a traditional schedule.

A core of RCMS teachers were of the opinion a middle school is superior to a junior high. Their research and experience seemed to prove the middle school superior because teachers interact with smaller groups of children and share students. Supposedly, that allows teachers to better meet the teens' developmental needs.

Teachers also found a quote from a Tempe School District principal who said, "There is no question that middle school team-teaching formats should be retained."

RCMS teachers also asked why a school that earned the coveted "highly performing" label --he only school in the district to do so -- was undergoing basic changes.

As in any public education issue, there's research that will support either argument.

Research also can be dug up that seems to prove the K-12 or maybe the 7-8-9 junior high models are best for children.

Changing RCMS from a middle school to a junior high was done for financial reasons and not because one model was better than the other.

Most of the Valley schools have abandoned the middle school concept as a cost-cutting measure. Around the country, districts have been able to balance budgets by switching to cheaper junior highs.

The facts are in: budget constraints have scrapped the middle school.

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