An encouraging by-product of the Pasco School District's push to remodel antiquated elementary schools is an opportunity for a firsthand look at the K-8 model that eliminates a separate middle school for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
The school district has never embraced the concept previously, though it is used by charter and private schools in Pasco and has been in place in neighboring Hernando County since 2005. But, three days ago, the district revealed plans to close Shady Hills Elementary in August for a multiyear remodeling and transferring the student body to what is currently Crews Lake Middle School.
The most likely beneficiaries will be the third- and fourth-grade pupils from Shady Hills who, under this plan, will have the opportunity for a seamless transition into what normally would be their middle school years at a different location.
Advocates of the K-8 model say the setup can enhance educational performance because it provides more continuity for adolescents who won't be distracted by changing schools, faculty and peers as they do now when they enter sixth grade at a new school.
Certainly, there are challenges, including likely concerns about mixing eighth-graders and kindergarten pupils in the same complex. But those can be addressed, particularly in a three-story school that can accommodate age separation more easily because of its physical design.
The K-8 concept has proven popular in Hernando. It is appropriate to give it a try in Pasco County.