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Huron Elementary Becoming Grade Level Based

November 30, 2011, 6:05 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Huron Elementary Becoming Grade Level Based
HURON, SD - Many of you are probably used to the idea of a neighborhood elementary school for kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.

But that's changing in Huron. A couple years ago we told you about the district's plan to put students in a school based on their grade level. That system is now partially in place.

Inside Buchanan Elementary School in Huron, you'll only find kindergarten students. Kindergarten teacher April Ahlers is pleased with the set-up.

"Last year I was at an elementary school that had just one kindergarten; it was me. And so you didn't have anyone to get feedback from or share ideas with," Ahlers said.

But this year, there's a building full of kindergarten teachers together. It allows them to share ideas and collaborate on lesson plans.

That's just one benefit the district is boasting from this set-up. This is the first year kindergarteners in Huron are all under one roof.

There'll be more grades levels implemented into the system next year.

When an expansion project is done at one of the elementary schools, it'll be ready to house first and second graders by next year. Another building will eventually house third and fourth with fifth grade in the middle school.

Kindergarten principal Peggy Heinz is optimistic the transition will go well as the other buildings become grade-based as well.

"The energy level between the staff, the students, parents has been wonderful. I have not had one complaint. It's been all positive comments so far," Heinz said.

In fact, the district went from more than 20 kindergarten students open enrolled down to nine this year in the new format. Still, time will tell if the response continues to be positive as the transition to the grade-based elementary schools continues.

Ahlers is sure it will for her. She's never had so many co-workers teaching the same grade as her that she can bounce ideas off of every day.

"In this building, I'm at the very, very end. So as I walk back to my classroom, usually takes me about 20 minutes because I can stop by and talk to everybody as I go down," Ahlers said.

The district will have third and fourth graders in two separate buildings next year. But it plans to expand one of those buildings, bring both grades under one roof and close a building to save money.

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