Students & School Configuration
In Windsor, there are two elementary schools organized in the grade level cluster model:
- Mattie Washburn serves students in Kindergarten, through second grade.
- Brooks Elementary School serves students in grades three, four, and five.
The schools work together and the programs run like one school family on two campuses.
WHY DOES WINDSOR CHOOSE THIS CONFIGURATION?
- Teachers are able to collaborate each day, share materials, visit each other’s classrooms, and share best practices.
- Students and parents access a greater variety of teachers and special programs, and students benefit from the special strengths of each teacher (example: shared music time with teachers trained in music).
- Each campus has the advantage of full time trained specialists (resource specialists, speech therapists, special day class teacher, English Language Development (ELD) teacher) who are able to focus remediation techniques geared for the grade level configuration. In a neighborhood school, specialists are often part-time and have to share their time with other school sites – their caseloads include students with a large age span.
- Greater cost efficiency district-wide by concentrating resources, and reducing reproduction costs of materials.
- Libraries are able to provide more books at the appropriate level. Librarians are able to concentrate their funds on the needs and interests of the students at their sites. For example, the Mattie Washburn Library consists of primary reading material in a warm and inviting environment; and the Brooks Library has the technology and materials for students to access information for research projects and reports.
- Each campus has age-appropriate playground equipment and age-appropriate lunchtime furniture and bathroom facilities.
- Schools can gear all assemblies and special events to the age of the students.
- Elimination of the problems associated with older students dominating and sometimes bullying younger students.
- Parents join one PTA and attend joint activities. Special days and programs are timed so that parents may attend these at each child’s school site without conflicts.
- All of the students in Windsor (who do not attend private or the Cali Calmécac Charter school) are in classes together and have played together at lunchtime from kindergarten through fifth grade.
- All Windsor schools reflect the diversity of the community, and students develop friendships with students from all Windsor neighborhoods. In school districts with neighborhood schools, students from multiple small elementary schools come together into a large middle school. They do not know the students from the other elementary schools and typically enter middle school with fear of the unknown and lots of anxiety.
6th grade students starting middle school from within the WUSD system join as a group of children who have been friends for years – some as far back as Kindergarten. For many, that makes the transition smooth into upper grades. As students enter High School, parents report that it is comforting to know most of the families and students. This helps parents coordinate social and athletic events. An added bonus is that because these parents have volunteered at school since kindergarten, so they continue to be active parent volunteers through the high school level. Windsor High School has one of the most active parent participation programs in the county.
The one disadvantage seems to be that parents are driving students to and from multiple schools each day. The District has developed plans to help alleviate this problem by staggering start and dismissal times. There are also shuttle buses that allow students from one site to ride free of charge to another site where a parent can pick up both students at the same time.
PARENTAL AND TEACHER SUPPORT
Every few years, parents are surveyed regarding support for grade level cluster configuration. Time after time, overwhelmingly, parents and teachers indicate support for the cluster configuration, and encourage the District to maintain the present grade level cluster configuration.