Proposed Reconfiguration » FAQs


Please find below more detailed information organized in a Frequently Asked Question format  regarding the proposed reconfiguration.

What is the proposed reconfiguration?

Rayne Elementary Building - Primary Elementary (Grades PreK-2) - will continue on current time schedule 8:55 am - 3:45 pm

W.A. McCreery Elementary Building - Intermediate Elementary (Grades 3 - 6) - would switch to High School hours 7:40 am - 2:47 pm

Jr/Sr. High School - remains the same

Why the recommendation for reconfiguration?

The administrative team was tasked by the Marion Center Area Board of Directors during our

December meeting to provide an operational model that is fiscally responsible while sustaining

as many educational resources our projected revenue streams can provide, not only for today,

but also for the years ahead.

As an administrative team, it is our job to always seek avenues to better deploy our educational model. Year in and year out the financial strain upon our district outpaces the revenue stream supplied by our state and federal government. The remaining deficit can only be filled by local property tax revenue or further depletion of much-needed resources.

Although our enrollment numbers have declined over 200 students in the past 10 years, students’ needs at all levels have continued to increase.  Our special education population increased from 19% to nearly 25% over the past 4 years, more students are entering school with behavioral and communication challenges,  more and more students need access to guidance counselors for various reasons, and more and more students need remedial services to meet grade level expectations.  Thriving students also need opportunities for enrichment and advancement.  All of which can be provided more efficiently and effectively by combining grade levels into one building.  

Today and in the future, we are continually tasked to do more with less.  It is my professional opinion, as the Superintendent of Schools, that reconfiguring our buildings will provide more opportunity and a better educational experience for our students.  Change can be difficult, but is inevitable in the times that we are living in.  

Why now?

Over the past 3 years the district has received a significant amount of federal funding for COVID recovery, equivalent to nearly 10% of our operating budget. These funds were used in a variety of ways toward the enhancement of learning experiences for students, decreasing class sizes, closing the gaps created from the mandated COVID restrictions and improving the air quality in all district buildings. Additionally, these resources allowed the Staff, Administration and Board to understand the value of some areas of new or additional support as compared to others while the funding existed without a direct burden to local property tax payers, all while understanding at some point difficult decisions on our future  would need to be made as we emerge from the strains of the COVID era.

The District cannot expect the community to bear the burden of the loss of these resources through a direct increase in property taxes. Given this situation, the district faces the critical task of transitioning away from reliance on temporary federal funding and toward a sustainable financial model that aligns with available revenue streams. I feel that a reconfiguration will allow for further financial sustainability and provide a better education and more opportunities for our students.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of having grade-level teachers together in the same building are significant and can positively impact the educational experience of students. 

  • Utilization of Space - Rayne Elementary struggles with space issues, including the lack of extra classrooms and dedicated areas for special area teachers and related services.  Service providers working in hallways and transformed closets, providing band practice for our growing band on the small stage, etc, highlight the urgency of addressing space constraints. By reallocating grade levels and consolidating resources, the district can optimize space utilization and ensure that each school building has adequate facilities to support teaching and learning activities effectively.  W.A. McCreery students would have access to the pool, the planetarium, lockers, a band room, etc.
  • Utilization of Staff - Having more educators in one place enables better coordination and collaboration among staff members, leading to more targeted interventions and support services for students with varying needs. This flexibility in staff deployment enables the district to better match educators' expertise and skills with students' specific needs, enhancing the overall quality of instruction and support services provided.
  • Equalized Class Sizes - The reconfiguration allows the district to balance class sizes more evenly across grade levels and eliminate disparities in student-teacher ratios. Balanced class sizes contribute to more equitable learning environments, ensuring that all students receive adequate attention and support from their teachers. 
  • Stability Regarding Placements - The proposed reconfiguration eliminates the need for students to switch between schools, providing families with greater clarity and stability regarding their children's educational placement.
      • Elimination of Swing Areas - Eliminating the need to transfer students between buildings to balance class sizes reduces disruptions to students' routines and fosters a sense of stability and continuity. Historically, the need to balance class sizes between Rayne and W.A. McCreery Elementary schools have resulted in instability for students living near the attendance boundaries.
      • Elimination of Special Education Transfers - All special education services (Life Skills/Autistic Support and Learning Support Services) will be offered in each building, eliminating the need for students to transfer to the other building to receive the services they require.
  • Opportunity for Grouping Students -  With teachers working closely together (4 for each grade, rather than 2), it becomes easier to group students based on their learning needs. Students can receive targeted remediation or enrichment activities tailored to their specific academic levels and areas of interest, promoting personalized learning experiences during small group instruction.  The district is dedicated to providing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to meet our students where they are.  This process would be even more effective if all grade level teachers worked together collaboratively to meet ALL students’ needs.
  • More Efficient Resource Allocation - Concentrating grade-level teachers in one building allows for more efficient allocation of resources, including instructional materials, technology, and support staff. Administrators can better assess and address the specific needs of each grade level, ensuring that resources are utilized effectively to support student learning.
  • Collaborative Planning Opportunities for Teachers- Having teachers in the same building means they can work closely together to plan lessons. When teachers collaborate, they share ideas on what and how to teach. This helps make sure all students are learning the same things and that teachers are using the best methods to support a variety of student needs. 
  • More Accessible/Age-Appropriate Learning Environments - The physical attributes of each building are better suited for the proposed grade levels.  Rayne Elementary's more compact layout is easier for primary students to access while W.A. McCreery's facilities are better suited for grades 3-6. 
      • Rayne Elementary was originally designed as a K-4 building, and is tailored to accommodate primary-grade students. Larger classrooms and dedicated primary play areas and centers reflect the focus on early childhood education and developmental needs. Having restrooms within the early education classrooms is convenient for younger students and promotes a more self-contained learning environment. Access to playgrounds and bus loading/unloading areas is optimized for the needs of primary-grade students, enhancing safety and efficiency.
      • W.A. McCreery Elementary was originally constructed as a middle school, and the layout is geared towards intermediate-grade students. Facilities such as lockers are more suited to older students, providing them with organizational tools and promoting independence. The layout and design may accommodate the developmental and educational needs of intermediate-grade students more effectively, including access to age-appropriate learning spaces and amenities.
      • Age-Appropriate Learning Environments and Activities - The implementation of School-wide Positive Behavior Support programs, activities, and assemblies can be tailored to align more effectively with age-appropriate preferences, rather than attempting to cater to a broad spectrum from Kindergarten through sixth grade. We recognize the desire for a more mature learning environment among our older elementary students, especially those students attending Rayne Elementary.  As an example, sixth-grade students (and 5th grade when appropriate) would benefit from actively engaging in assemblies and other programs that mirror the content and themes suitable for our middle level/ junior high students.
  • Improved Support Services for Students with Special Needs - Again, our district special education population has increased from 18% to nearly 25% over the past 4 years.  This includes students receiving Speech and Language Support, Learning Support, Life Skills Support, and Autistic Support services.  Currently our Life Skills and Autistic Support students have to attend  W.A. McCreery Elementary, as Rayne does not have the space to have a classroom, nor do we have the numbers to provide two classrooms.  W.A. McCreery Elementary has a much higher population of Learning Support students than Rayne Elementary.  Under the current structure, equalizing caseloads would require students to transfer buildings. 
      • Equitable Access to Special Education Services - Life Skills, Autistic Support, and Learning Support services will be offered at both the Primary and Intermediate levels, eliminating the need for students to attend a different school for specialized services. This promotes inclusivity and consistency for the students and reduces logistical challenges for families.
      • More Flexibility Within Programming to Meet Individual Needs - All programs for grade levels within one building allows for creative groupings and cross-over supports to better meet individual needs of students.  Students needing both Learning and Life Skills Support can mix programs to best meet their needs. 
      • Optimized Caseloads and Teacher Focus - Combining grade levels within each building allows teachers to have a more focused and manageable caseload, enabling them to provide more individualized attention and support to students with special needs within grade levels, rather than grade spans.  With equalized caseloads and a narrower focus on specific grade levels, teachers can better address the unique learning goals and challenges of their students, fostering a more supportive and inclusive learning environment.
      • Compliance with State Regulations - With the influx of special education needs, the district can better ensure compliance with state regulations regarding maximum caseload numbers and staffing requirements while equalizing caseloads among staff members. This approach minimizes the need to hire additional staff or transfer students between schools to meet regulatory standards, thereby enhancing administrative efficiency and resource allocation. 

In summary, the reconfiguration of schools to facilitate collaboration among teachers and balance class sizes can enhance the quality of education provided to students. By creating cohesive learning communities within each building, schools can foster a supportive and inclusive environment where all students have the opportunity to thrive academically and socially. The reconfiguration will offer a strategic approach to addressing the increasing complexity of student needs within the Marion Center Area School District. By consolidating resources, maximizing staff flexibility, and promoting consistency in programming, the district can better meet the evolving needs of its student population and ensure equitable access to high-quality education and support services for all students.

Why the proposed time change for grades 3-6?

The reason why the Administration is proposing that the intermediate building follow the high school schedule is to accommodate additional instructional time. The high school schedule offers 7.25 hours each day, while the current elementary schedule provides 6.5 hours.  The current schedule in grades 3-6 poses challenges for our intermediate students in meeting all academic requirements within the allotted time. Synchronizing the time schedules of both primary and intermediate students would necessitate buses picking up students on the route, then making consecutive stops at each building. Upon evaluating this scenario, it was found to result in extended bus rides for students and a staggered arrival and drop-off process. The anticipated staggered drop-off and pick-up would consume approximately 20 minutes at the commencement and conclusion of each day, potentially leading to the loss of 40 minutes of instructional time.  This is not feasible, especially with our upper elementary students.  

The Administration understands the obstacles that an earlier start for grades 3-6 will have on families and morning routines.  We also recognized the need for after-school programming for students that are unable to be home alone after school hours.  Options for such programming are being explored at this time.

Why couldn’t 3rd graders remain in the primary building on the primary time schedule?

Rayne Elementary School does not have the space to house 4 additional classrooms of third grade students. Third graders are also at a stage where they are receiving instruction in Science and Social Studies and focusing on honing their reading and math skills. Research has shown that students who do not reach proficiency in reading by the end of third grade may face challenges in their academic progress across various subjects. Proficiency in reading by this stage is often seen as an indicator of future academic success.  Our third grade students, especially those experiencing the effects of the loss of instruction during COVID, will benefit from additional time and support to master their foundational skills.  

Why do we feel it is appropriate for 3rd - 12th grade students to ride the same bus?

We understand that many of our elementary families are concerned about the younger children riding buses with high school students.  We are not ignoring the community's concerns.  We have talked with several districts that transport K-12 students on the same buses without concerns or behavioral issues involving high school students and elementary students.  Some of those schools have reported that elementary bus behaviors have decreased since moving to  K-12 routing.  It is important to note that last year, the high school received 6 bus discipline notices throughout the entire school year.  Both elementary buildings combined received 80.  We are continuing to work on reducing bus behavior through our elementary PBIS programs, which has resulted in a reduction of reported bus incidences at the elementary level so far this year.  

The following practices will be implemented to reinforce positive bus behaviors:

  • Continuation of teaching positive bus behavior through our elementary PBIS programs, as well as teaching students to report inappropriate behaviors if they are involved or witness them while riding the bus.  
  • Students will be assigned seats, placing our youngest students closer to the front of the bus and our high school students near the back. 
  • High School Administration will address bus behavior and expectations in beginning of the year class meetings.  Expectations will be clearly communicated to students and followed up by discipline, as needed.  

It’s also important to note that many of our High School buses have a small number of students riding in the afternoons.  Many of our senior high students drive and many students across grade levels stay after for activities.  

We certainly cannot promise that an issue will never occur.  Students do make mistakes and we can only hope that those lead to learning.  We are proud of our Marion Center students, we truly have good kids!  Many of our high school students will mentor and support our younger students, giving them positive role models to look up to and allow all students to feel a larger sense of school community.

How will the revised bus routes affect ride time?

Smith Bus Company provided us with a transportation study using our current students’ addresses.  The study indicated that ride times would continue to fall under 60 minutes on the Intermediate/High School routes.  The Primary routes to Rayne Elementary School all fall under 40 minute ride times, based on the number of vehicles and more direct routing.  Ride times are subject to change based upon new enrollments and other changes within student pick-up and drop-offs.  If the reconfiguration should occur, the district will continue to work with Smith Bus Company to optimize routing and to inform parents as early as possible so they can begin preparing for any needed changes.  

Why was a letter not sent home with the students regarding the proposed change?

We opted not to send a letter home with the students as we believed that, at this stage, these discussions are best handled at an adult level. Our intention was to prevent any unnecessary worry or concern for your child(ren) by avoiding the introduction of potentially sensitive information through them. We trust that parents are in the best position to share this information with their children, allowing for a more personalized and supportive approach. While we respect any decision you make regarding discussing this matter with your child, our aim is to empower families to make the decision on when and how to address these topics with their children. 

If you have additional questions, you may submit them through the "Ask a Question" Link to the right of this page or in the drop down under Proposed Reconfiguration.