WINTHROP — Moving Winthrop’s fifth-graders from the elementary school to the middle school can give the kids more opportunities and a boost.

That’s according to school Superintendent Gary Rosenthal, who outlined the proposal during a community forum Tuesday night at Winthrop Middle School. Rosenthal told the about 40 people who attended that he wouldn’t get into details but would rather provide an overview of how the move would work.

Rosenthal did not take any questions from the audience at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I want the audience to reflect a little bit,” Rosenthal said.

Instead, index cards were passed out for the submission of written questions, which Rosenthal said would be answered at the next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Rosenthal cited research by the National Middle School Association supporting a switch of fifth grade from the elementary to the middle school level. Middle school years are a critical period in education, he said, when “80 percent of those kids make their decision in the seventh or eighth grades about what they’re going to do in the future.”

Rosenthal cited specific examples of expanded offerings in math, music, technology and foreign language that such a move could provide to Winthrop’s fifth-graders, although he conceded it would take time to realize all of those benefits.

Budget cuts are not driving the proposal, Rosenthal said. The impact on the budget would be minimal, he said, declining to say any more about financial considerations.

Moving the fifth-graders from Winthrop Grade School to the middle school was proposed briefly last year as well.

At a school board meeting in June, parents convinced then-superintendent Briane Coulthard that the timing was wrong. One mother of a fifth-grader told the board the students already had to adjust to new bus drivers, new school times and two new teachers.

Questions or comments regarding the proposed move may also be submitted by email to [email protected]

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