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Behind the Scenes

Varying opinions about the new middle school
Construction from a bird’s-eye view of the new middle school.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know a second middle school will be opening in the 2025-26 school year. According to district personnel, every effort is being made to make the experiences as equal as possible.

Because of the increase of students in the current middle school and the fact that most elementary schools have reached the maximum capacity, a new middle school is being built to help reduce crowding. Crowding has occurred in every school in the Auburn Washburn School District so Middle School 2 will be a huge benefit to everyone. According to Dr. McWilliams, the superintendent of Auburn Washburn Schools, “The goal was to establish middle school boundaries in a way that would minimize overall disruption to the school community, create two schools similar in size (enrollment) with similar student populations, and not create long distances for students/families to travel to/from school.” It was also important to keep the current elementary school boundaries in place. “By having Farley, Indian Hills, and Wanamaker students feed into Middle School 2 and Auburn, Jay Shideler, and Pauline South feed into WRMS, we were able to accomplish most of the objectives.”

Another big change is that the new middle school will allow 6th graders to join the middle schools. This will create a balance between all of the Auburn Washburn School environments, by reducing the amount of overcrowding, and allowing elementary schools room to add, or expand the preschool programs. Additionally, smaller class sizes will allow the teachers to build stronger relationships with the students. Mr. Lambotte, choir teacher at Washburn Rural Middle School, said, “As far as 6th grade moving in, I am ecstatic! It will be nice to be able to have a longer time to build relationships with my students, since currently it is only two years.”

Washburn Rural Middle School

Some parents are also excited about the new school. “I like the idea of two middle schools. I think that the current middle school is overcrowded so an additional middle school will help with smaller class sizes and opportunities for more kids to participate in athletics,” a USD 437 parent said. Rich Jones, District Operations Manager, agrees that the new building will help with numbers. “The really great part about having 2 Middle Schools is that even though 6th grade will move up and there will be three grade levels in each building, the total enrollment will be 700 or less students in each building compared to the current Middle School that pushes 1000 students with just 2 grade levels,” said Jones.

While some people think the division of elementary schools should help the overcrowding, and open up more opportunities for extracurricular activities, others think the division will bring some conflicts. “The three schools going to the new one are all of similar economic incomes and the old one will have a larger divide in social and economic income,” said another parent. “I think the old one will have to deal with more emotional strains while the new one will be able to focus on educational issues.”

In conclusion, there are varying perspectives about opening a new middle school, but neither one will be better than the other. Adding a new middle school won’t make things perfect, but it will provide more room in all of our schools for the important learning taking place.

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