Tempe’s Laird Elementary School will add two sixthgrade classes in the fall and gradually phase in seventh and eighth grades.
The change means fifthgraders who would have moved on to middle school in the fall can now remain at Laird.
The Tempe Elementary School District Governing Board recently decided to allow Laird to serve kindergarten through eighth grades.
District officials recommended the change because Laird parents had said they want their children to go to school closer to home, said Assistant Superintendent Debra Gomez.
Laird is the only school in the district located north of Tempe Town Lake. Middle- school students from the area are bused about five miles south to either Connolly or McKemy middle schools, Gomez said.
Principal Frank Klajda said the feedback he’s heard from parents has been mostly positive, with a few citing concerns about older students being on campus.
But “there’s a fairly high level of trust between the neighborhood and school,” Klajda said.
Klajda said some of the advantages of adding the extra grades include aligning the curriculum and continuing the school’s strong literacy program with the older students.
Laird is designated as a “K-3 reading demonstration site” by the Arizona Department of Education. Educators across the state and the country have visited the school to learn about the reading techniques the school uses in the primary grade levels.