MARIETTA — Riverside Primary School and Riverside Intermediate Elementary School in Mableton will both serve grades K-5 beginning next fall, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced at the Cobb school board’s Thursday meeting.
Riverside Primary serves grades K-1, and Riverside Intermediate, serves 2-5. Both schools are on South Gordon Road, about half a mile apart.
Riverside Primary School will be called Riverside Elementary School, and a new name for Riverside Intermediate Elementary School is to be determined, Ragsdale said.
As of the state’s latest enrollment count, Riverside Primary enrolls 250 kindergartners and 266 first graders. Riverside Intermediate enrolls 255 second graders, 262 third graders, 270 fourth graders and 272 fifth graders.
Ragsdale said the decision came from discussions with board member David Morgan, who represents the two schools, and members of the community. While the superintendent said both campuses have room for future expansion, Morgan said he does not yet know how many additional students the two schools can expect next fall.
The superintendent said Morgan asked the district to do what it can to eliminate some of the transitions some students have to make through their elementary and middle school careers.
Because of school feeder patterns, students who attend Riverside Primary for kindergarten and first grade then transition to Riverside Intermediate for grades 2-5, before heading to Lindley Sixth Grade Academy and then Lindley Middle School for seventh and eighth grade. Eventually, the students end up at Pebblebrook High School.
“Five transitions is more than most feeder patterns have,” Ragsdale said.
The superintendent also said the single attendance zone that now covers both schools will be split into two to reflect the birth of two new K-5 elementary schools.
“One of the biggest challenges ... is where the schools are located, so that has presented a significant challenge but one that we have overcome,” he said.
Morgan said he is optimistic that his community will be happy with the superintendent’s announcement. The board member said though families still have to make four transitions, the fewer the better.
“I think that (this) sends a strong message that we listen. We listen to the people that we serve,” he said.
Ragsdale said as part of a mandated process in the district, executive cabinet members held a community meeting, where they were met with a “great community response.” Updates to transportation procedures have also been completed ahead of the Riverside restructure, he said.
Tre Hutchins, who sits on school councils in the Pebblebrook feeder pattern, said concerned families and advocates have been urging district officials for years to lessen the number of transitions that he said are challenging for families, especially those with multiple children.
Hutchins, who has also announced his intention to run for Morgan’s school board seat next year, said some families with multiple children in the Riverside feeder pattern have had to clear their schedule for two days just to make it to their schools’ open houses.
“That has always been a constant concern,” he said, adding that parent participation in PTA groups has also been negatively affected by the additional transitions. “So to see this come to fruition is exciting. Our parent groups are excited to begin collaborating and getting prepared for a new school year. This restructuring is great.”
Hutchins added that he hopes the district will continue its restructuring at the middle school level, eventually resulting in the three transitions that most other students are used to.
“But it’s a great day for south Cobb, and we’re excited about it,” he said.