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Anna Maria Elementary considers adding sixth-grade

Anna Maria Elementary School fifth-graders may not need to look off the island for middle school next year.

Administrators at the school are gauging interest from AME students and parents concerning adding sixth-grade.

“There is a lot of evidence that K-8 schools and schools that keep students in that setting past the fifth-grade are beneficial for those students,” said principal Dave Marshall.

Marshall was approached by Diana Greene, deputy superintendent of instruction of Manatee County school district about the idea, which was discussed at the AME School Advisory Council meeting Jan. 13.

On Jan. 14, students were sent home with a survey to gauge the interest of parents and primary caregivers about the extra grade. Survey results were collected Jan. 17.

“We’re looking for 60 percent of parents who took the survey to say they’re interested in learning more about it. Of the survey results that have been turned in, it looks like we’ll make that,” Marshall said.

Marshall said it’s a four-step process. The survey, the second step, will lead to an information night for parents. It’s at that point “parents would consider it more seriously,” he said.

The timeline for a decision is unclear. However the school district starts the allocation process for funding for 2014-15 in March or April. At that point, AME will need to have an estimate of how many of students would stay, and the number of those who would prefer to go to middle school off the island.

Marshall said he’s not sure why AME was approached with the idea, but a school board member had suggested it.

AME is not the first elementary school in the county to be approached with idea of adding a grade. And if it does, will not be the first school to add higher grades. Palm View Elementary in Palmetto, Tara Elementary in Bradenton and Myakka City Elementary in Myakka have added grades.

“In the last two years we’ve seen other schools in the county expand,” Marshall said.

For now, it’s all up for discussion at AME. “We have the space, we have three rooms available. Now, we’re really looking at what would be beneficial for the students. The parents will decide. For now it’s moving forward and we’ll see what happens,” Marshall said.

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