LEEDS — Fifth- and sixth-graders in Greene and Leeds will not attend middle school in Turner next year, the Regional School Unit 52 board voted Wednesday night.

In a unanimous vote at Leeds Central School, a redistricting proposal was put on hold for one year, allowing more time for research.

Positions that would have been eliminated, including five teachers, were restored to the budget.

The vote came after parents protested during community forums in Turner, Leeds and Greene last week.

Superintendent Darlene Burdin proposed sending Greene and Leeds students to a middle school in Turner to save money in a time of shrinking funds. But the biggest reason, she said, was to improve student learning.

Students from the three towns enter middle school at widely different levels, indicating some may be getting a better education than others, Burdin said. Creating a four-year middle school for grades 5-8 would bring about a more uniform curriculum, would allow for more professional development among teachers and would improve student performance, she said.

But the change would have meant meant fifth- and sixth-graders riding on the same bus as high school students. And, fewer students would attend school in their hometowns of Greene and Leeds.

School Board Chairwoman Diana Morgan and Burdin thanked parents Wednesday night for their input and concern.

“I’m recommending that we slow down, do more research, but we don’t lose sight of what we need to do for all students across our district,” Burdin said.

She is retiring, and a new assistant superintendent who starts Tuesday will work with a new committee to research possible future changes, she said.

“I’m very concerned about the discrepancies in achievement,” Burdin said. Given the test score data, “we have to delve into this. We need to be about every student in our district.”

Parents reacted with relief but concern about what will happen next year.

“I’m glad they put some more thought into it,” said Richard Ryan, father of two students at the Leeds school. “It doesn’t make sense to work two weeks and suddenly decide they want to change where our children go.”

Corinne Ryan said their son is too young “to be dealing with high-schoolers” on the bus. Both said they planned to monitor developments next year.

Tina Crosby of Greene also was happy with Wednesday’s decision. Administrators didn’t have enough answers to parents’ questions, she said.

Cyndi Nielsen of Greene said she wished the redistricting idea “would just go away. How many times am I going to have to come back to revisit this?”

Nielsen’s granddaughter attends prekindergarten in Greene. “I don’t want to see my granddaughter go over any earlier to the junior high school than she needs to.”

School board member Jon Woodward of Greene said given all of the questions from parents, “it was clear we need to put more research into it.”

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