PASCO -- A program for gifted students at Edwin Markham Elementary School in Pasco will be cut next year.
Project Spectrum classes will no longer be offered at Markham after this school year, said Assistant Superintendent Calaine Bacon. The program, which still will be available at Ruth Livingston Elementary, needed to be cut to free up classroom space and teachers at the crowded school.
Markham's principal, Wendy Lechelt-Polster, first floated the proposal to cut the gifted classes at her school during a study session of the Pasco School Board earlier this week. During the informal session -- no vote was held -- the board gave the principal the go-ahead to eliminate the program if her teachers agreed it was the best way to alleviate crowding.
Lechelt-Polster met with teachers Wednesday. They agreed that Markham students will be better off in smaller classes, even if it means losing the program for the most gifted students, Bacon said.
The school then sent out letters to tell parents of the cut.
Under the current program, especially gifted children are pulled out of general classrooms and taught more difficult material. Some gifted children don't succeed in general classrooms because they get bored or feel they have to lower their standards to fit in.
The problem is that the kids need their own teachers and classrooms, say school officials. Both are scarce at Markham, which is in an area of Pasco that rapidly is growing.
Currently, many students are in combination classes, Lechelt-Polster said during Tuesday's meeting. This means that second- and third-graders, and fourth- and fifth-graders attend classes together.
Six of the 16 classes at Markham are organized this way, she said.
Eliminating the gifted program would mean only two classes would have to be combined from two grades next year, both of them for bilingual students, Bacon said.
The school already will get a portable classroom next year, but that will provide only enough room for expected growth, she said.
Parents of gifted Markham students can enroll their kids in Project Spectrum at Livingston if there's room, Bacon said. The district will provide transportation to that school, she said.
-- Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; email@example.com