District announces Geyer updates - November 22, 2005
During a news conference held today, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson unveiled several details about the district’s move to convert Geyer Middle School to a Montessori magnet program beginning in the fall of 2006. Joining with Bunche Elementary School, the district’s acclaimed Montessori magnet program will offer parents a pre-K to eighth-grade option. With approval of the FWCS Board of School Trustees, Geyer’s name will be changed to the Jeff H. Towles Intermediate School in memory of the first African-American Board president. “Dr. Towles was an exemplary leader during the period of desegregation in our district,” said Dr. Robinson. “He was instrumental in developing the district’s magnet program that continues to ensure our elementary schools are racially balanced. We are proud to pay tribute to Dr. Towles by naming this exciting new program in his honor.” In addition, the district is looking at changing the name of Bunche to reflect its new focus - prekindergarten and kindergarten. It would be called the Ralph J. Bunche Early Childhood Center. School Board members will vote on the name changes during their next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 in the Board Room at the Grile Administrative Center. Other new developments in the conversion include: - Bunche will be the site for prekindergarten and kindergarten, with grades 1-8 at the current Geyer facility. - Kekionga Middle School’s Montessori program will move to Geyer. - Current Geyer students will be assigned to middle schools based on the following new elementary feeder pattern: o Abbett to Lane to South Side o Fairfield to Shawnee to South Side o Harrison Hill to Miami to South Side o South Wayne to Portage to South Side - Students and their parents will be notified of their school well in advance of the deadline to submit an Intra-district Transfer, in case those families would like to select another middle school for their student to attend. The deadline is Feb. 24 for middle school transfer applications. - The ESL program at Geyer will be relocated at Miami. “FWCS is once again taking the lead in the nation by providing students with exceptional learning opportunities,” said Dr. Robinson. “In addition, converting Geyer to a Montessori magnet program reaffirms our commitment to keeping strong, viable schools on the south side of Fort Wayne.”
The current Montessori program has been very successful and popular with parents. Bunche Elementary School, offering pre-K through fifth-grade boasts ISTEP+ results showing third-grade students with a 100 percent passing rate in math on the state exam in 2003. The school is one of the most requested of the magnet schools in FWCS. It also is accredited by the American Montessori Society - the only public school with such a distinction. By popular demand several years ago, Kekionga Middle School added a Montessori program for those students wishing to continue in the program after leaving Bunche. It, too, has been very popular. Geyer is among several Title 1 schools across the state facing sanctions under No Child Left Behind. It has only been a Title 1 school for a few years - not long enough for the extra resources to have the required impact on student achievement. Although there has been steady improvement, it has not been enough to meet the ever-rising bar set out by NCLB. Enrollment has been declining as a result of guidelines set by NCLB. In July, Board members approved the decision to close Geyer as a middle school and reopen it as a magnet school next year as a result of the sanctions AYP had placed Geyer under. Since the announcement, district officials have been meeting weekly to iron out details of the plan. “This is an exciting new chapter for FWCS as we continue to work to meet our goal of success for all students,” said Dr. Robinson.