Groundbreaking Education

Connor Parrish, Reporter

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On October 11 at 5550 Sinclair Road, CPS broke ground on the new middle school set to open before the 2020 school year. The school has been in public development since 2014 in order to bring down the overcrowded population of Gentry Middle School.

Gentry has been overcrowded for the past years. Principal Dr. Fairouz Bishara-Rantisi said, “We started the school year with over 940 students, which is way above our capacity.”

Gentry was built to hold 650 students according to Dr. Peter Stiepleman. The new middle school will allow Gentry to not be over crowded as in years past .

Bishara-Rantisi explained the new school is to, “not only to reduce class sizes, but to have a safer environment. Currently, our hallways are packed and are difficult to navigate, our cafeteria is at capacity and doesn’t provide many seating options for our students, bathrooms are always busy and hard to maintain in a timely manner, student assemblies are extremely loud and busy, and finally student pickup and drop off consists of long lines for parents.”  

How this project got approved is a complicated process. The district relies on long range predictors to make recommendations to the school board based on enrollment information to determine if the district can meet the needs of attendance. This allows the board to decide if CPS needs new buildings, because CPS is continually growing. According to Stiepleman, this year’s first day of the school started with 19,000 students enrolled — the most in the history of the district.

For this project, the new school has been in public development since 2014. In 2016, the community approved the initial funds to buy land and to design the middle school. Then in 2018, the community approved another bond to complete the building, and broke ground on it in the same year.

With the school being intended to lower the population of Gentry, the school did help the project.

Bishara-Rantisi said, “We have supported the Board of Education and Dr. Stiepleman every step of the way as we tried to gather support for the passing of the bond issue, or with City Council, when the project seemed to get stuck.”

But with the new middle school, district lines will have to change to decide which students go to the new middle school and which to Gentry.

Stiepleman commented, “We will continue to have a feeder system for 6 of the schools. Smithton and West will feed into Hickman, Lange and Oakland will feed into Battle, and the new school and Gentry will feed into Rock Bridge. Our plan is to turn Jefferson into a STEM and Arts (STEAM) middle school.”

Former Gentry student senior Paris Williams said. “At Gentry you are separated by team and there are a lot of people so the teacher is always occupied.”

By the 2020 school year, Jeff middle school will be a new STEAM school, The new middle school will be opened. And there will be new lines to decide where students go. If you want more information there will be a story about the lines in a few days.      

 

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