Richmond County School System made a big change to its original timeline for merging students from one local middle school into the nearby high school. Administrators told parents this decision came after reviewing community feedback from several Rightsizing meetings in order to improve the district.
Parents learned that their sixth, seventh and eighth grade children could be walking the halls with high school students sooner.
Trina Harris is the mother of a sixth grade Murphey Middle School girl. Richmond County leaders told her and other parents about the Rightsizing timeline changing from a phased merger to transitioning all students in August of 2017. The original timeline would have moved eighth grade students from Murphey to Josey in 2015-2016. Then, the 2016-2017 eighth grade students would have been moved. The rest of the Murphey students would have been moved to Josey in 2017-2018.
Harris said she saw a benefit to her daughter being moved to the high school setting in a smaller group.
“That would give them time that if there were any issues, they could work them out,” she said. “I have a few issues of her interacting with high schoolers and people older than her because you can only protect them so much from social media and everything and then with that, it’s just adding more.”
Harris found out that some of the common areas like the media center will be shared between the younger and older students. But, School System Ability Program Director Jeff Baker said the SPLOST funded improvements connect the middle and high school buildings with some separation.
He said, “We have created the facility improvements such that there is a very distinct division between the two.”
The merger is happening due to a decline in enrollment at Josey. It is being touted by school administrators who claim successful mergers have already happened at AR Johnson and Davidson Fine Arts.
Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools LaMonica Lewis shared with the group, “We do already have a plan for the middle schoolers to have their space here on the Murphey-Josey merger campus and the high schoolers to have their separate space.”
Administrators stressed to parents the benefits of the merger.
“They will have access to high school course work. It helps us to really stay focused to have them college and career ready. We want them to stay ahead of the game as much as possible,” she said.
Katoria Harris, a sixth grade student at Murphey said, “Yeah I like that. It’s kind of like they are letting us do what high schoolers do.”
“Getting you prepared for college. That’s good,” her mom replied.
Lewis said a vote on the merger could happen as late as June.