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Utah school says adding ninth grade will boost grad rates

Education » Granger is one of four Granite District schools looking at grade reconfiguration.

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The two "feeder" junior highs, West Lake and Valley, will face staff, resource and scheduling changes. But Dave Holt, principal at Valley Junior, said seventh- and eighth-graders will benefit because administrators won’t have to focus so much energy on high-school bound ninth-graders.

"I think it’s a matter of how you’re going to target your resources," said Holt."It’s a different mind set and a different process."

At a glance

What’s next

The Granite Board of Education will vote Tuesday on whether to add ninth grade to Granger High School. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at district offices, 2500 S. State St.

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Administrators acknowledge some parents have expressed concerns about bullying and "inappropriate" relationships between ninth- and 12th-graders. They said their research of other 9-12 high schools indicates neither will be a problem.

But ninth-graders at Granger will have access to a wider variety of classes, sports and clubs.

"I think they’ll meet whatever challenges will come their way," said Teina Moore, a parent and the chair of Granger’s community council. "I really think the positive will outweigh the things we’re not expecting."

Bates said many Utah high schools don’t include ninth grade simply because all four grades can’t fit within the building. It’s a housing issue, not an education issue, he said. "As the housing issue goes away the advantages for having the ninth-graders in the high school are significant."

Stephanie Day, a 14 year old ninth-grader at West Lake junior, is "excited and a little bit nervous" about becoming a high school student, even though she’ll start at Granger in the 10th grade. Having to jump into high school a year earlier would "definitely" have been a big change, she said.

Haslam welcomes the challenge.

"I think it’s best for kids," Haslam said, and it’s "best for student learning."

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