OPEN THREAD: Middle School

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The Middle School Study Group is preparing its recommendation to the Cannon County Board of Education following the recent community forums. What do you think the group should tell the School Board about incorporating a middle school grade structure into the county's school system?

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March 20, 2011 at 2:10pm
NO Middle School. Take a look at rezoning first. More students would attend the other schools instead of the majority sent to Woodbury Grammar. From what I have heard, its already bursting at the seams.
With our county and school budgets over extended why the cost of creating a middle school? Either a new building or busing children to Woodury Grammar would cost more in the long run.
March 20, 2011 at 3:23pm
I say YES to a middle school. It would enable us to offer so much more to our students. We could do more for our advanced students and more for our students who need extra help. We could offer classes that we cannot offer them at six different schools, for example, we could have music classes daily, we could offer algebra I for those students who are ready (there are now 39 eighth graders taking algebra I online this year, but there are several more who could not take it because they do not have computer access at home), we could offer foreign languages, vocational classes, and this is just a few things!

My children attend West Side. I think the teachers there are the best. I know my kids are being taught by teachers who truly care about them. I know they are being taught by teachers who do a fantastic job everyday. I also know that they could benefit from music everyday, a foreign language before their 10th grade year, a chance to have more advanced math and science classes, and more exposure to diversity.
I realize money is an issue, but we must make education a priority if we ever want to bring commerce to our county.
March 20, 2011 at 3:36pm
March 20, 2011 at 3:47pm
We do not have the money to build a new school at this current time. So that idea is out the window.

The consolidation of six Grammar Schools is the key decision that has to be made NOW. The following issues (in no particular order) should be used to determine which schools remain open and which are consolidated / closed:

1. The logistics of each school in comparison to transportation needs / enrollment and capabilities of handling additional students.

2. Age and current maintenance issues of each school.

3. Student enrollment of each school.

4. Transportation study, i.e. costs, additional buses needed, more drivers, etc.

5. Proper zoning of each student (this one will be tricky due to consolidation.)

6. Financial cost of operating each school.

Take the money we save each year by consolidating and use it to pay off the debt we have because of inadequate planning and un-necessary additions that were made 11 years ago.

Create a committee that include a minimum of TWO County Commissioners, along with School Board members and at least TWO citizens of Cannon County to work on future issues and problems.

Look for land to build on during that time period. If land is found and can be purchased then begin the process of buying it. Do not wait until it is decided it is time to build before beginning to look for land.

Do a comprehensive study on the financial aspects of building a new High School.

Once the debt is paid off and hopefully the land has been decided upon, then build a new High School.

Turn the old High School into a Middle School for grades 5th through 8th grades or 6th through 8th depending on the capabilities at that time.

Start the process of consolidating K-4 into two schools and closing the others using the same formula above.

This is a 10 year plan at the minimum and it is not perfect, but it is a start and one that if not instituted in some form will simply pass the problem on to students who are enrolled in Grammar Schools all over the county today and cost us all more in tax dollars over time.

The time for tradition and sentiment are over. It is time to start thinking about our children and what they will face tomorrow if we choose not to act today!
March 20, 2011 at 4:23pm
No middle school. The taxpayers cannot afford it. Rezone to balance each schools attendance numbers.
March 20, 2011 at 7:05pm
No Middle School!!
March 20, 2011 at 8:21pm
NO MIDDLE SCHOOL! A second language is useless, and if kids want music learn it at home. We could also keep kids from out of county from coming into our schools also. I know people who use grandparents addresses to send their kids to school in Cannon County.
March 20, 2011 at 10:15pm
Yes to a Middle School. Long over due...
March 20, 2011 at 11:54pm
Victosdomino, if you in fact know of people using addresses of Cannon Countians to come to our schools, you should make it known to the School Board.
March 21, 2011 at 7:52am
No middle school. It's just a knee jerk excuse to siphon off a quarter of the student bodies of the five schools that don't have Woodbury painted on them and point out gleefully that they then will fall below an arbitrary attendance number so as to justify a new building on the outskirts of the center of the universe. That way there will be no award winning schools nor standing room only crowds supporting athletes for an institution outside the largest voter block. Let's spit on the ideas of community identity outside of Woodbury and portray the decision makers as a faceless, merciless entity who are unaccountable to the parents even though the parents are voters as well as their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and in a county this size their blood kin cousins.(probably on both mom and dad's side) Let's denigrate the existance of a school that was only built because there was a community that banded together and hired a law firm to FORCE the issue lest the parents of the OTHER four schools get the idea to band together as well. God forbid there be competition for excellence. Let's set forth amorphous goals and ten year plans ala Lenin, Stalin and Kruschev to plaster over the cracks in my bubble of denial that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to replace a building where the stench of urine from the vandalized restrooms made anyone entering the lobby nauseous and it did not improve the level of education to my child who lives within the magic 37190 zip code. And is already overcrowded. Let's label our opponents as blinkered, narrow minded traditionalists while also whimpering about the progressive ideals of banning corporal punishment (spanking) and banning the mention of any thought process that might include religious overtones not found in the Koran. Let's offer the carrot of exotic offerings like music, computer technology, and French lessons while ignoring the facts about innate talent or the probability that our children will encounter far more Hispanics than Haitians.
I had cousins educated in Latin in Rutherford county foreign language classes but they didn't have any advantage over me when we all attended the same University, all of the classes were in English. None of them did any better than me career wise either.
March 21, 2011 at 8:20am
There should be a middle school for grades 6-8. It should be where the current high school is. There should be a new high school. There should be no more than three K-5 schools. All of this should be done when the right conditions are implemented.
March 21, 2011 at 8:59am
No middle school.
March 21, 2011 at 9:05am
Was a middle school considered before the new Woodbury Grammer built and the additions to the other schools were done? It seems the decision to make those changes didn't have a very long lasting affect. It would have made more sense to have done an extensive study then-that could have possibly avoided the discussions that are currently going on. Why make more knee jerk decisions that will only put the county in another big debate 5 years from now? I don't oppose a middle school but I don't think enough research has been done to make the decision on a middle school at this time.
March 21, 2011 at 9:08am
wichita hit enter every now and again with your comments and it would help all of us read them.


If you have a point to make about the schools, get to it. I really don't need a history lesson on your family, past Soviet Union leaders or your views on why children need corporal punishment.

Just simply say I am against the idea of doing anything and I want Cannon County to live in the 1950's where my idea of a perfect world exists.

That would be much easier to read and a lot less exhausting.
March 21, 2011 at 10:57am
Yes !!!! We need a middle school! A consolidation plan should have already been implemented!
March 21, 2011 at 11:01am
NO Middle School
March 21, 2011 at 11:21am
No middle school!
March 21, 2011 at 12:17pm
The general consensus of most residents is that the elementary schools are excellent and the high school is terrible. Why then should we create a middle-school modeled after the way the high school is done?

Also, what complete moron dreamed up the idea or raising taxes to pay for something we don't need in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression? How about some unemployment for them next election cycle?
March 21, 2011 at 12:58pm
Yes to a middle school. we should all want our children to have every opportunity in life. Victosdomino, how can you say a second language is useless? Its only useless if you never want your children to leave the county. You should want your children to be able to experience the world if they choose to. Also, music classes in schools have been proven to raise grades in other classes such as math. I think some people would go back to the idea of one room school houses if they could, just because it reminds them of old times. Its time to grow with the times and better prepare our children for their futures'.
March 21, 2011 at 1:05pm
Yes to a middle school. Our children deserve the right to a much better specialized education than they are receiving currently. Cannon County needs to move into the new century and quit letting the "good ole boys" get their way.

Redeemed, why is our high school a mess? Becuase everytime something needs to be changed and/or corrected in Cannon County, it is always the same ole' response "that is not how we do it in Cannon County". Well, let's think about this: the way Cannon County has been doing it has lead to unemployment, no new businesses coming to our county to open up jobs, residents going outside the county to work, purchase all items (e.g., food, gas, clothing, etc); no one in the county wants to take responsibility for anything...they just point the finger and put every new idea that someone has down; parents are not leading by example in a lot of cases to their children; they take no responsibility in their actions therefore, forget making sure their children do.

Our family of four, who support West Side Elementary School, the only school to come out and say Yes, we want a middle school and why, definitely supports a middle school!!
March 21, 2011 at 1:23pm
No middle school. I wish I would have had the the student/teacher ratio that our little community schools have. If a middle school is built that ratio will deminish and our children and grandchildren will be no more than a number or a statistic.
March 21, 2011 at 1:47pm
It is discrimination if the students at the "little community schools" have a lower student/teacher ratio than do the ones at the "bigger community schools." It is unfair to the taxpayers who live in the bigger communities to ask them to pay to keep the "little community schools" open when the people of those communities could not afford to do so themselves.
March 21, 2011 at 2:10pm
Yes to a middle school. Obviously, some don't know the reputation our kids have at local colleges. The high school is not a mess. However, expecting great things with no change is the real problem with our community.

Any opportunity for our children to grow in any way is, in fact, growth for the whole town. Learning is always a good thing, from a SECOND language to a better school system. This is for our CHILDREN, not for tradition or the sentiment of good ole days.

If you don't think that education is a good thing, perhaps you shouldn't be voting in this poll at all.
March 21, 2011 at 3:31pm
I believe that a middle school would greatly enhance the educational sysytem in Cannon County. Perhaps it can not be done right now due to our economic situation, however now is the time to plan and prepare for a middle school. I understand some people believe in there "community schools", however they should think about the current children in the system and the disadvantage they are faced with.

I believe today that children are sheltered and protected to much by their parents and by there small "community schools". A middle school would provide an enviroment more like a high school or university and teach kids educational responsiblity and allow them to learn how to deal with situations they will face as they further there academic careers
March 21, 2011 at 4:27pm
Much has been said about the benefits of the Middle School to the kids, and most of it is valid. However, I would ask that people also look at the impact, other than the much mentioned student teacher ratio, that K-8 has on the kids that would be sent to the Middle School. I was in favor of the Middle School the first time this discussion came up several years ago. Since then I have seen two of my own kids go through the K-8. We have seen very positive results during what I consider to be the toughest years to educate kids (jr. high). Allowing "middle school age" students to mentor and help the lower grades; giving them responsibilities and opportunities by a factor of several schools versus one are great K-8 benefits. Those items would be lost or limited at a Middle School. I have been around many Middle Schools, and I do not see near the discipline problems in our K-8 as those "islands" of early teenagers had. Just some food for thought and further discussion...
March 21, 2011 at 5:31pm

You enumerate various reasons why our high school is a mess (most of which are subjective and biased). Yet ignore the fact that if your assumptions were true, then the same should be true for our elementary schools, which is not the case.

If we want our middle school-age children to experience the problems that our high school children go through, then by all means, let's build a middle school. They may be drug-using drop-outs, but at least they won't be poor sheltered innocent children.

March 21, 2011 at 10:02pm
I take serious offense to the statements calling our high school "a mess". Our students are upstanding, generous, caring, hard-working young men and women. Our teachers are diligent, caring people who have a special love for what they do. In case you did not know, any teacher in this county can go next door and make thousands of dollars more per year. So, why do we stay here? BECAUSE WE LOVE CANNON COUNTY AND ITS CHILDREN.

Is Cannon County High School perfect? Absolutely not! No institution is ever perfect. Do we strive for perfection? Everyday! Our students deserve the best, and for that reason we go above and beyond to give them all we can. We offer advanced classes for our above average students, including honors, advanced placement and dual enrollment classes. Many of our students graduate from Cannon County High School with all their college math, English and history classes completed! Our students compete at the state and national levels in Beta Club, HOSA, FFA, FCCLA, BPA, etc. We have winning sports programs. We have students who have attended and graduated from some very impressive universities, including Vanderbilt, M.I.T., and Pepperdine. Our graduates are successful citizens. They are NOT "a mess". They are not "drug-using dropouts".

Just this past month we saw our community come together in a big way to support our basketball program. Our students support their community. We have blood drives at school, and I guarantee that we have a larger percentage of eligible people donate at the high school than do in the general public. We have a group of students who recycle all our paper. We have a large number of students who give to the white cane drive every year. Our Lioness club provides Christmas presents for needy children. We are often overwhelmed by the generosity and sense of citizenship of our students.

We practice No Child Left Behind with a vengence! We offer an hour of tutoring everyday at lunch, in addition to staying after school and coming in early to help anyone who needs extra time. We offer credit recovery for those students who need a second chance. Our graduation rate increased about 12% last year! Two years ago we joined High Schools That Work as to have access to new and innovative ideas to better our school.

The administration at Cannon County High School is the best. Our principal and assistant principal are both former CCHS teachers. They have a passion for our school. They are consumed with making it better.

We have our share of problems. We have students with drug problems, but show me a high school that does not. We try our best to get help for those students. Those children need our help; they do not need to be called names.

If you see a problem, suggest a solution! We welcome any information that will make us better.

I believe our elementary schools are excellent. I believe our elementary school teachers are excellent. I am not in favor of closing any of our schools. Our students deserve the best, and a middle school will get us closer to that goal.
March 22, 2011 at 12:34pm
So in summary,

Arguments against middle school:
Longer bus rides
Higher taxes
More centralized control (bureaucracy)
Earlier/greater exposure to drugs, sex, bullying, etc

Arguments for middle school:
Because that's what everyone else is doing
March 22, 2011 at 6:34pm
Couldn't put it so clearly myself.
Have to take prescription meds to be THIS congenial and outgoing.
March 22, 2011 at 6:53pm
cannon1 I was not aware that we needed another language to go outside the county and I'm sure you meant country. Hey Roseeta Stone works great, and music is dead. I do want to keep Cannon County like the old days. If you don't like it move to another county. Problem solved.
March 22, 2011 at 8:46pm
No Victosdomino, I meant county, as in you never want your kids to go to college and instead stay in little Cannon County all their lives. I'm not sure if its still the same (its been several years) but when I was in high school, two years of a foriegn language was required for college. And I never said didnt like this county, I just think our children deserve every opportunity possible in their lives. And it's Rosetta by the way.
March 22, 2011 at 9:08pm
So in summary,

Misleading statements about the idea of a middle school:

Longer bus rides: Time spent on buses are State mandated and cannot be any longer than they currently are. A middle school has no bearing on the length of time in a bus in no way or fashion.

Higher taxes: Consolidation of six schools and the creation of a middle school (without building) do not require a tax increase and actually saves taxpayer money.

More centralized control: There would be no other control over the schools system than is currently in place at this time, which is the School Board and the Director of Schools.

Earlier/greater exposure: You are blind to reality if you think the kids in ALL Grammar Schools are not subjected to drugs, sex and bullying right now, each and every day they attend. A middle school does not decrease it or increase it.

Arguments for a middle school:

I could care less what everyone else is doing; I am worried about Cannon County. Nothing more and never anything less.

Keeping six schools open when we need four at most is ludicrous, an inept management of our finances and poses a continued risk to the safety of our children by leaving them in buildings built in the 1950's while the air conditioning literally falls through the roof.

Doing nothing is not an option.

Passing on a known problem to the students and children in school now when the adults know it is wrong is inexcusable, lazy and border line neglect.

What your daddy did in 1967 no longer works in 2011. Get past the sentiment and the tradition and start planning for the future!
March 23, 2011 at 8:36am
cannon1 online classes are the way to go now, and you don't need foreign language for them. If you want your kids to have opportunities then you provide them don't let them sit around playing video games all day. It would be fine with me if the state just gave me the money they would spend on my kids and I would home school them myself.
March 23, 2011 at 8:44am
I also want to commend and agree with Mrs. choateo.

All of you who are intent on bashing the High School students, teachers and administration can stop spreading the manure until you can come up with solid evidence about how bad it is there and not something you heard from your cousin's, sister's best friend who lives in another county. It is always amazing how people who love to talk about how bad a situation is never seems to have anyone who is actually involved in it. They always seem to know because they were told by someone who was there.

1. If you know of a problem and do nothing about it, then you are part of the problem.

2. If it is affecting your child and you do nothing about it, it is neglect.

3. If you have tried to do something about it and got no results from the High School administration, you have other resources to choose from to try to come to a resolve.

4. EVIDENCE and not HEARSAY. FACTS and not FICTION. TRUTH and not LIES. Those are the things I am willing to listen to and believe if you have any to offer about how so bad it is at the High School.

Anyone can make a random statement saying something is a mess and have nothing to back it up. I say it is time for all of you to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk!
March 23, 2011 at 10:56am
No middle school!!!!!
March 23, 2011 at 1:27pm
The main problem with our schools is the director. Who would've thought that a county would hire someone back who had been fired for not doing their job to begin with. There I said it so everyone can start getting offended now.
March 23, 2011 at 3:37pm
Lie #1
"Longer bus rides: Time spent on buses are State mandated and cannot be any longer than they currently are. A middle school has no bearing on the length of time in a bus in no way or fashion."

Anyone with a 4th grade education can tell you that it's going to be a longer ride if you have further to go. Are you planning on altering the laws of physics or maybe adding nitrous systems to the buses?

Distortion #2:
"Higher taxes: Consolidation of six schools and the creation of a middle school (without building) do not require a tax increase and actually saves taxpayer money."

Someone has to build the building, which WILL require raising taxes. Your assumption of savings is mere conjecture and not typical of reality (it's like saying Obamacare is going to save us money).

Misrepresentation #3:
"More centralized control: There would be no other control over the schools system than is currently in place at this time, which is the School Board and the Director of Schools."

Having local schools, principals and teachers (many of whom live in the community they work) increases the amount of control and influence members of the community have on it.

Falsification #4
"Earlier/greater exposure: You are blind to reality if you think the kids in ALL Grammar Schools are not subjected to drugs, sex and bullying right now, each and every day they attend. A middle school does not decrease it or increase it."

You are demented if you believe increasing the number of kids in a confined space will not increase the exposure they receive to the aforementioned.
March 23, 2011 at 5:18pm
No middle school!!!
March 23, 2011 at 5:40pm
Ms. Choate,
THANK YOU for highlighting all of the amazing accomplishments of our high school student body and faculty, as well as praising our county elementary school teachers. It gave me such encouragement to see where the middle schoolers I teach are headed...our very own CCHS!

We work SO hard daily, and our students are intelligent, compassionate, and forward-thinking; they are being taught to make good decisions, and I see so many pursuing careers, technical training, entering the armed forces, and becoming productive citizens. Whether we have a middle school or not, we teachers, together with our students, will continue to work towards high goals. I just hope that we as a county offer them every opportunity to facilitate these endeavors.

Please remember that our students read these posts, and we do not all think that they are unruly bullies who promote drug use and who don't need to learn music and second languages. They are extremely eager to learn anything they can, and so many of them are doing so already.
March 24, 2011 at 8:01am
Redeemed; the opportunities which are present at the high school are a manifestation of the lack of parent involvement within their childrens lives and/or not having the resources to help their children prepare for life. We have witnessed to many parents within the community at even the elementary school level which do not attend parent/teacher conferences, town hall meetings, do not participate in school functions (drop their children in elementary school off and let others watch out for them), etc. But let their children not get on the team, make the grade or receive discpline and they are the first in the door to start complaining.

What we are trying to say is that parents it is your responsibility to ensure that your children understand right from wrong; do not go down the wrong path; do not associate with the wrong crowd; monitor your childrens texting, social network pages, their friends and whereabouts. We as parents cannot just expect the school system to do all of these things for us. We see some involvement in elementary school, but still not enough of the parents are involved.

If we do have a middle school, at least the staff will have the opportunity to better disect the opportunities of the age group and address and promote awareness of issues better than trying to address them to an elementary audience. Do you really want your Pre-K thru 5th hearing about changes in your body, health concerns of a teenager, etc. We would think not. But these topics to need to be addressed within the home with the parents and in the school setting to prepare these students for what the future holds. With a middle school there will be a chance to do this and start mentoring these students for careers.

And to Ms. Choate: We know you and we love your outlook for life and for our children. You show this by your examples in life and how involved you are not only with your own children, but the community children at large. I agree we have opportunities at the high school, but what school system doesn't have opportunities.

Yes to a middle school!
March 24, 2011 at 9:53am
Richstrenth750: I agree 100%!! Thank you for your kind compliment. It is easy to love these kids. They make me smile.
March 24, 2011 at 11:24am

I agree with you 100% too. Except that none of what you mentioned necessitates the creation of a middle school. If certain ages need to hear a specific message and not others, then simply segregate them for that lesson.

March 25, 2011 at 9:39am
Personally I do not believe that the system can get around building a new school to facilitate this middle school deal, and having said that, I don't believe that our county can afford this at the present time. I would also like to put a new spin on this out look, as I do not believe that our system needs a middle school strusture. I think that it would benefit more from a junior high system with the 7 and 8 grades being pulled from the elementary schools and the 9th graders being pulled from the high school. This in fact will relieve the growing pains that are being felt at both levels. It does not have anything to do with our fine teachers or the way that they teach and instruct the kids in our wonderful county. It is only to facilitate the over crowding in the building that we have now. But I would also like to say again that this can only be done by building a new school, and our county CANNOT afford this in the current economic times. All of this IMHO!
March 28, 2011 at 8:55am
redeemed: the problem that with our current school structure is (1) they don't have the specific teachers to teach all of the necessary classes (2) due to the time frame of the classes they have, nothing has been built into the schedule for our young teens to have specific classes regarding health, etc. and (3) when teenagers are pulled out into larger groups, they tend to not speak up due to the fears of their peers thinking they are dumb, etc. therefore, we need those specialized smaller classroom settings to get these messages across. Would it now be a joy to have our young teens doing a day of science, math, language arts, grammar, health one 9 weeks/health the next 9 weeks, a split of being able to take home financial studies/or some other topic they would like to learn out. With a middle school you have much for freedom to route schedules based on the child's needs/desires versus in the elementary school you only have 3-4 teachers trying to teach everything to everyone. It just doesn't work that well and that is why we are seeing more bullying, drugs, date abuse (and yes that is happening in our county) teens not graduating or if they do graduate, not going on to obtain a skills to allow them to make the monies needed to support their families. We need this in our county and I hope that our elected board will vote YES.
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