April 30, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Fourteen Central Elementary fifth-graders will have to attend a different school in 2001-02.

The La Grande School District is reducing its number of sixth-grade classes from eight to seven. The cut is being made because of falling enrollment throughout the district.

The reduction means that 14 Central fifth-graders who are planning to attend sixth-grade at the school in the fall will not be able to. Sixty-eight children would like to attend sixth-grade at the school in 2001-02 but only 54 are eligible.

Three sixth-grade classrooms would have been required to accommodate 68 students, but only two classes are planned.

A parent information meeting will be held at Central at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss the reduction. School district administrators will be present to answer questions. Parents can bring their children to the meeting if they like.

The fifth-graders who will not be able to attend Central in the fall as sixth-graders, barring unforeseen student moves, are:

Students who live outside the La Grande School District. There are three such students and they will be encouraged to attend another La Grande school.

Students who have moved outside the Central attendance area. There are four students in this category.

Students who attend Central on an open-enrollment waiver. There are seven such students. La Grande elementary students can usually attend any school regardless of where they live if there is room for them and class sizes for a grade are balanced in the


A reduction was not proposed for Riveria, Island City or Willow elementary schools because each only has one sixth-grade class.

Steps will be taken to make the transition process for the transferring students as easy as possible, said Bruce Kevan, Centrals principal.

We know that this will have an impact on kids. We want to find ways to help them make the transition, Kevan said.

He noted that at Thursdays meeting principals from most of the other La Grande elementary schools will be present. The principals will want to welcome the fifth-graders who may be transferring to their schools.