Carlisle middle school restructuring  to be explored 

With enrollment dipping to 608 this year, the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) is recommending that school officials explore restructuring the middle school teaching model. At their September 12 meeting, school committee members reviewed their FY19 goals, which include having school administration and teachers investigate teaching changes “in order to meet the needs of students while staying within the existing budgetary restraints.” 

CSC’s restructuring goal reads in part, “With the Carlisle School enrollment projected to be declining at the middle school level for the foreseeable future, and with the financial pressures from the town, the School Committee would like to explore possible models for restructuring resources and refining processes.” CSC Chair David Model said that the committee would like options investigated during the current school year, with a goal of piloting a new middle school structure in FY20. Enrollment has been declining since the “bubble” year of 2005. 

enrollmentCarlisle School middle school grades are structured in the 4-4 model: each grade is taught by a team of four teachers, with each teacher teaching one specific subject (math, science, social studies and language arts). Model said that the dip in pupil enrollment, from 623 in 2017 to the current 609, will result in smaller class sizes which are significantly less than the recommended size of 21 – 25 per teacher. Currently, in the middle school there is an average of 17. 5 students per class. 

Parent Carrie Patel expressed concern about changing the structure. “I understand economics,” she said, but said her first priority would be quality of education. Model said, “It is not for us to determine the solution.” He said that the CSC is challenging the teachers and administration to look at the middle school format. He said that while the population of middle school classes fluctuates, class sizes of 15 or 16 are not economical.

Changes have been made in the past. In 2006, one additional teacher was added to the 4-4 structure to create a 3-2 model to handle the “bubble” classes as enrollment soared to over 800 students. Each teacher taught two subjects. 

Two other CSC goals

The two other CSC goals for FY19 are to improve communication and to increase the collaboration between the school committee and the superintendent. Model said that the goals will be voted on at the October 10 meeting. ∆