Reconfiguration considered for Davis schools

Over the several upcoming months, the Davis District Board of Education will look over reconfiguration options for the Davis Joint Unified School District’s (DJUSD) elementary schools, junior high schools and senior high schools. This may be up for discussion as early as March.

The current system in the Davis District consists of kindergarten to sixth grade in elementary schools, seventh to ninth grade in junior high schools and 10th to 12th grade at senior high schools. This was a common configuration in the ’70s and ’80s, and the Davis School District is one of the few remaining in the state with this setup.

The Board will review and consider several configurations. One option would be having kindergarten to eighth grade in elementary school and placing ninth to 12th graders in high school. Other options would be moving the ninth graders to high school, or not changing the current system at all.

Since ninth graders are placed at Davis junior high schools — which are considerably smaller than the high schools — they are protected from common high school social and academic pressures.

This subject has been brought up four times over the last 20 years. The reconfiguration is being discussed in order to use facilities more efficiently as well as meet long-term education and financial goals.

“The Education Code assumes that all schools are K [kindergarten] to five, six to eight and nine to 12 configurations. The rules, funding and timing are broken down by this configuration. We are considering aligning our configuration to fit these requirements,” said Pamela Mari, executive director of Student Services at DJUSD.

Mari made it clear that there is a great deal of study to be done before even considering changing the system.

“This subject requires analysis of facility use, program enrollment, educational benefit, challenges we might meet and mitigat[ion of] negative effects,” Mari said.

Former Holmes Junior High and Davis High School students expressed their opinion on the possibility of an entirely new school structure.

“I think the schools should move the ninth graders to force kids to grow up and give them more opportunities,” said Graham Daniel, a UC Davis second-year nutrition and psychology double major, and former Holmes Junior High and Davis High School student.

Caroline Petres, a Wheaton College third-year Asian studies major and former Holmes Junior High student, thought otherwise.

“I think changing the system is stupid. It’s fine how it is and Davis High School is already big enough. Plus it would only add to bullying,” Petres said.

The Board will decide what structure to implement after listening to several reports and weighing all the options.

“Whatever the decision may be, it will be well thought-out, meaningful, educationally sound and balanced with a financial benefit,” Mari said.

MELISSA GAHERTY can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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