Kennedale News owner, Jeff Navarez, recently sat down with KISD Superintendent Chad Gee to get an update on all the plans that are in the works for the coming school year. See the full video.
Out in the public, there has been a lot of talk, rumors, and not just a little handwringing over what was about to happen. The purpose of the interview was to explain the plan of action and hopefully alleviate some of the public concerns.
Here are the basics …
Only four regular grade levels will be directly affected in 2022-23 but only two of those will actually change locations.
5th grade – will remain in place …
- Fourth graders at Patterson Elementary will remain at Patterson for their 5th-grade year. The same for fourth graders at James Delaney Elementary who will stay at Delaney. Starting next year and into the future, both James Delaney and R.F. Patterson elementary schools will be 2nd through 5th.
6th grade will move a year early …
- This year’s 5th graders who will be in 6th grade for 2022-23 will move around the block from James Arthur and up the street, so to speak, to attend Kennedale Junior High. Starting next year Kennedale Junior High will house grades 6,7 and 8.
Pre-K, Kindergarten & First Grade – two will move one will remain in place …
- The biggest change will come with the repurposing of the James Arthur Intermediate campus. With the 5th and 6th grades moving out, it will become the James Arthur Early Childhood Center for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grades.
- It will be for all district students who will are at that level. Of that group only the current kindergarten and the smaller group of Pre-K will be moving from their current locations. The current first graders will remain at their home campus as 2nd graders.
- Pre-K in the ISD is offered to students who meet certain qualfications and is only halfday. A full day has been mandated by the state. With the move to Arthur and its larger campus, it makes it possible to expand to a full day program for Pre-K. In the future, there is the possibility that the program can be offered to all students in the district who live in KISD. It will not happen this coming year. Mr. Gee mentioned that he would like to see that happen but that it would be determined in part by both staffing and space availablity after the current planned move has been made.
What is driving all the changes …
- Growth is happening and Superintendent Gee discussed what it means for the school district. Within the school district, there are currently 14 housing developments. Note: KISD boundaries include areas in southwest Arlington, not just the City of Kennedale.
- “I will tell you that from those 14 new [housing] developments there are 1200 housing units that are coming into play, Gee said. “If you do a ratio of 10% up to 20% [as being school age] that would mean we would have 120 to 240 new students over the next few years.”
- Gee discussed the options of renovation versus new buildings. “What we could renovate buildings for was more feasible than building new buildings – we have spatial capacity available if we just move things around.”
Why the change to an early childhood center at James Arthur …
- First, according to Gee referring to James Arthur, the classrooms are built to house larger students. This actually makes it better for early childhood education purposes which need larger spaces to meet the needs of those students, allowing the younger student to move around instead of being confined to a chair and desk all day.
- “The whole idea is to create an early childhood center that is based off … of experiential learning and learning through play, said Gee. “I think we have moved away from that in our education system where we have kids just sitting at a young age in four square walls and be there all day long. [We would be] giving them more space and giving them a better environment.”
- Another reason for the new grouping Gee explained, “The district’s goal is to have all students reading on grade level by grade three and we feel that this type of learning environment will be a way to accomplish that goal.”
- Gee felt that this setting will be more suitable for encouraging their reading skills and overall learning. And, the district will have more opportunities for influencing pre-k learning and thus boost learning in the higher levels.
- Changes at James Arthur, besides smaller toilets, smaller furniture, and the removal of some walls, calls for an age suitable playground and a new indoor play area. This is in addition to the small gym that is now located on the campus.
The biggest impact of all may be on the staff acknowledged Mr. Gee. They are the ones who will have to make it all happen. Many of the staff have or will be undergoing specialized training and those at Arthur now will be relocating. But, he expressed confidence in all involved and feels that this will lead to good things for the district.
Public meeting, all are welcome …
If you would like to have additional information or to learn more about the progress of these plans, Superintendent Gee encourages you to join the architects in charge of the overall project at a meeting this Thursday evening at 6 pm.
The January 6th meeting with architects is open to the public. The architects will be going over the scope, budget, and timeline of the various projects. It will be held at the Kennedale ISD Media Center on the campus of Kennedale High School (behind Wildcat Stadium) at 6 p.m.