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MUSCATINE — For the past two public school board meetings, Muscatine parents have brought their concerns and criticisms about the middle school merger to the meetings’ community comments section.

To help reassure these concerns, the Muscatine Community School District has released a guide on frequently asked questions about Susan Clark Junior High for the 2020-21 school year.

Why merge?

Why are West and Central are merging in the first place. In November 2018, the school board unanimously approved the merger, believing that by having one middle school, Susan Clark Junior High will be able to better prepare students emotionally and academically to transition to high school. They also believe that one middle school will promote more collaboration among teachers, with this leading to the improved articulation of the middle school curriculum.

The district said there is no need to wait until renovations planned for the middle school are finished, and West’s current structure can comfortably house the number of students that would attend one middle school, without overcrowding.

What about class sizes?

Bigger class sizes have also been a concern from parents. Susan Clark is projected to have 750 students for the 2020-21 year, but class sizes are expected to be similar to the current average class size at West, which is 20-21 students.

The district said core and exploratory teachers will have their own classrooms while only teachers who are not assigned to teach their own classes all day will share rooms. The two sets of staff from the not-yet-combined middle schools have been working for over a year to assure that Susan Clark will have appropriate staffing levels. There will also be a sufficient support staff to help with the transition.

Will there be sports?

Susan Clark Junior High athletic teams will access the new McKinley gym along with the gyms at West and Central, so practice space for all the teams shouldn’t be an issue.

Other things to consider:

Students will still have 25 minutes for lunch with four minutes passing before and after. Each student is expected to have their own locker. Buses will be separated from car drop off with the traffic flow on Kindler being significantly lower because of the remodel at McKinley, which redirects traffic off Kindler.

For more information, visit www.muscatine.k12.ia.us and look for the FAQ under the MCSD News and Alerts tab.

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