PCS talks benefits of K-5 schools

PCS will open two K-5 elementary schools for the 2016-2017 academic year, school officials confirmed. (File)

PCS will open two K-5 elementary schools for the 2016-2017 academic year, school officials confirmed. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—As part of an approximately $50 million building campaign, Pelham City Schools will open two kindergarten through fifth grade elementary schools for the 2016-2017 academic year, school officials confirmed during a Dec. 8 BOE meeting.

The two K-5 schools will replace the current elementary school and intermediate school system.

One school will be located in the current Valley Intermediate School building and will serve the north and west portion of Pelham. The second school, Applegate Elementary, will be built on Applegate Parkway, off of Shelby County 52, east of the tank farm, and will serve the south and eastern parts of the city.

PCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield said a demographic study has been done to guide the creation of attendance zones. As a growing city, Coefield said the School System will continue to monitor zoning to ensure the schools reflect the population of the city.

“We will establish attendance zones that reflect the nature of our community as a whole,” Coefield said. “If you’re in a growing city, you’re going to have to consider zoning whenever it comes up.”

Coefield said there are numerous advantages to having two K-5 elementary schools in Pelham. It will “shorten the amount of time our kids are on buses,” alleviate traffic congestion in the city during drop off and pick up times and ease curriculum planning for teachers.

“Having two K-5 schools, you have that continuity all through elementary school,” PCS Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Elisabeth Davis explained. “It makes it easier for teachers to plan.”

With a kindergarten through second grade elementary school and separate third through fifth grade intermediate school, it is challenging for teachers to communicate across schools to “vertically and horizontally” link the curriculum, Davis said. Housing kindergarten through fifth grade in one building avoids potential curriculum “gaps” by easing communication.

Attending a K-5 school can also improve students’ education experience, Davis said. Currently, students must learn a new school building, new routines and new teachers every three years. With the new system, they will have continuity from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“One of the key things is that transition is hard,” Davis said. “Taking one of those transitions is important.”