Pulling the Plug on Class

A drop in the head count at a Tallahassee elementary school has administrators pulling the plug on the sixth grade. After this year, Canopy Oaks Elementary will no longer offer classes for sixth graders, those students will head to middle school instead.

School officials say from an academic and extra curricular standpoint, Canopy Oaks can't compete with middle schools in the area, and that's what they chalk up the drop in student numbers to.

Teacher Patty Ball has been with this class of sixth graders for two years, guiding her Cardinals up the academic ladder.

But, this is the last semester she'll teach sixth grade at Canopy Oaks Elementary.

"When opened in 1998, three sixth grade classes, then four since that time the numbers have dropped,” comments Supt. Bill Montford.

Due to a drop in student enrollment, the Leon County School Board opted to axe the sixth grade at Canopy Oaks. Currently there is only one-sixth grade class, with 26 students present.

With a little more than two-dozen sixth graders canopy oaks can't compete with other middle schools when it comes to offering extra curricular activities.

"Since Canopy Oaks opened IB program at Fairview Middle school opened, magnet program at Cobb opened, not to mention middle school football and band are now being offered,” Principal Carol Bishop explains.

Officials say closing the sixth grade wing will actually benefit students in the long run.

"They'll benefit from different programs we can't offer them here,” Ball says.

Mrs. Ball says while it's hard to watch her cardinals fly the coupe, she knows they need to spread their wings and fly.

Since there is only one class of sixth graders not that many students are affected, they will be able to complete this year at Canopy Oaks. There is only one teacher affected, and Supt. Bill Montford says she has the option of staying at Canopy Oaks or transferring.

Those students in the class and fifth graders can either attend Griffin Middle School, which many of them are zoned for or parents can enroll in a magnet program, or school choice.