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Parents hope 4J work session addresses school merger fears

The work session on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss why the board chose to merge the schools instead of building a bridge school.

Posted: Dec 3, 2019 6:25 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Parents are hoping that the 4J school board addresses concerns surrounding the merger of Yujin Gakuen and Kelly Middle School in a work session scheduled for Wednesday.

Elementary Japanese immersion school Yujin Gakuen will be moved into the Kelly Middle School facilities as the school is demolished to make room for a new North Eugene High School built with a voter-approved bond.

In total, 307 students are currently enrolled at Yujin Gakuen and 456 are enrolled at Kelly Middle School. District administrators told KEZI 9 News the facility will still be under capacity and light renovations should lighten the load.

However, some parents aren't convinced.

"We're expecting enrollment to increase. We're talking about more students in the classroom, larger class sizes, but with smaller square footage (per classroom)," said Rita Gillihan, who has students at Kelly Middle School.

According to the Eugene Teachers Association, some are concerned that tight quarters don't provide a good learning environment. They said one possible plan to accommodate Yujin Gakuen would include putting in walls to make two areas out of some of the school's largest classrooms.

With some class sizes reaching 30 to 35 students, teachers have spoken up about their worries. Parents fear the conditions could cause teachers to quit.

"We've been hearing that a lot of them want to leave. What is that going to do to these students who are in some cases already struggling, and their teachers who have been here for years and been a bedrock for them are gone?" asked parent Jen Rooseboom.

According to the Eugene Teachers Association, educators would like to see guarantees that their jobs are safe in the case that parents move their students to different schools.

The 4J school board will have a work session on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at 200 North Monroe St. to discuss why the board chose to merge the schools instead of building a bridge school which is what's planned for Edison Elementary. 

RELATED: 4J TO MOVE DISPLACED STUDENTS TO OLD WILLARD SCHOOL DURING BOND WORK

A second work session where administrators will have a look at transition plans will be held on Dec. 18.

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