Parents Plead to Keep School's Upper Grades

About 250 parents and children crowded a board of education meeting Thursday protesting a proposal to end sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Fred Moiola Elementary School.

A study by the Fountain Valley School District concludes that sending those students to middle schools would offer children more diverse electives, a greater variety of teachers and a setting that makes for an easier transition to ninth grade.

As they did at a November meeting that was closed by the Fire Department because of over crowding, parents appealed to the board to kill the proposal.

"It's hard enough for kids to be kids in our society," said Jean Godwin, whose granddaughter attends first grade at Moiola. "I think the interaction in the smaller environment is better for all of them."

The study by the district staff also lists several advantages to keeping Moiola as it is, including the school's two periods of language arts a day, fewer students and better parent-teacher relationships.

The school board is expected to make a decision on the matter this year. Changes to Moiola, if approved, could be phased in as early as September.

If the trustees decide to change the school's format, 156 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Moiola would have to attend either Talbert, Fulton or Masuda middle schools. A majority, 125 to 135, are expected to go to Fulton, requiring about four new portable classrooms. Five Moiola teachers would also transfer to middle schools.

Danielle Theil, 13, told the board Thursday, "If I had to leave this school right now, I'd feel very lost, since I feel very accepted right here at Moiola."

Steve Rhoten, father of a first- and a fourth-grader at the school, said, "The older kids seem to bond with the younger kids, and they are very protective of them."

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