Bethel closer to ditching junior high schools

Dec 17, 2010

What's one way to end the terror of junior high?  Members of a Bethel School District committee think the answer is to create middle schools. 

The group of residents and staff from Pierce County’s third-largest school district voted Wednesday night to support switching the junior high configuration to a middle school model, reports the Tacoma News Tribune.

Most school districts state- and nationwide use the middle school model.  Middle schools span grades 6-8 instead of 7-9 like junior highs.  Currently, Bethel students begin high school in grade 10.

Supporters of sending students to high school sooner say it will give them access to more classes.  Opponents say the change will cost a lot of money at a time when budgets are strained. 

Some parents worry their children won't be emotionally ready to leave elementary school in the sixth grade. 

The change will affect nearly all of the district's 18,000 students, six junior highs and three high schools.

The school board will make the final decision and plans to begin discussions at its Jan. 25 meeting. Officials say the earliest a change could be implemented would be the 2012-13 school year.

Puyallup is also considering a switch to middle schools.  It's the only other Pierce County district using the traditional junior high model.