New middle school configuration to include an 8th Grade Academy
8th Grade Academy to be on existing Sequoyah Middle School campus
As part of phase III of the 2015 bond issue, Broken Arrow Public Schools is updating its middle school configuration to include an 8th Grade Academy, which will be located on the campus of Sequoyah Middle School. The site will include a new standalone two-story classroom building, additional cafeteria space, an upgraded parking area, and a possible auxiliary gym and/or practice fields.
“With a new middle school approved within the 2015 bond issue, many factors were weighed to determine the best way to accommodate the growing student body, whether it be through a proposed 8th Grade Academy, the construction of a new, traditional middle school grades 6-8 or other configurations proposed by members of the public,” Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Perry said. “Factors considered for the academy include academic opportunities, fine arts access, athletics, transportation logistics, extracurricular activities, fiscal responsibilities, construction costs, and overall future population projections for the district.”
Many of these issues are discussed in this special “BA Behind-the-Scenes” episode, and the section below includes several of the frequently asked questions surrounding this project. Have a question to add? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and this page will be updated with new information.
The new facility is scheduled to be finished in 2025.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What was the decision-making process and timeline?
- Spring 2021
- Discussions regarding the allocation of upcoming bond funds identified for a middle school.
- Identifying needs and concerns for students in grades 6-12.
- Review of bond specifications
- September to December 2021
- Created committee with representation from district administration, transportation, technology, secondary administrators, secondary instruction, enrollment, child nutrition, athletics and fine arts
- Committee members reviewed data and comparisons of a single grade academy vs. three grade approach
- Researched in-state and out-of-state examples
- Reviewed available land and space at existing sites
- January 2022
- Review of bonding funds and costs associated with construction of:
- A new middle school for grades 6-8
- Additional classroom space an at existing middle school
- Additional classroom and ancillary space to create an 8th Grade Academy
- Site visits by district leadership to gain input from teachers
- February 2022
- Discussion of the three options and how they impacted student learning and equitable access
- April to May 2022
- District hosted two community forums regarding the possibility of an 8th Grade Academy
- May 3 forum was live streamed and recorded and can be viewed on the district's YouTube channel
- May 2022
- Surveyed all parents and school staff concerning personal preferences for future plans
- Total Votes (parents and staff)
- New middle school for grades 6-8: 36.67% and 30.77%
- Add space to an existing middle school: 32.79% and 22.44%
- 8th Grade Academy at Sequoyah Middle School: 30.54% and 46.79%
- September - November 2022
- Curricular and Operations teams meet to discuss details and site plans ahead of construction meetings with architect and construction manager
Why did BAPS choose an 8th Grade Academy?
- The passage of the 2015 bond issue allocated $30 million towards a new middle school facility, but with construction costs on the rise, it would take nearly $55 million to build a standalone 6th-8th grade middle school in today's market. From 2015 to 2020, construction costs increased approximately 20%. In just the last two years, those costs have jumped 32%. Building at an existing site will create a substantial cost savings for the district. Additionally, the current five middle schools are quickly reaching enrollment capacity limits. Building on to the existing campus at Sequoyah Middle School and converting it to an academy for only 8th graders will help mitigate space concerns at the remaining four middle schools, which will then house only 6th and 7th grades once the 8th Grade Academy is open.
Why was Sequoyah Middle School chosen?
- Building on this site will keep construction costs within the allocated budget - see previous Q&A - and the close proximity to the Broken Arrow Freshman Academy will be beneficial for 8th graders enrolled in higher level courses and extracurricular activities. Transportation between the 8th Grade Academy and the Freshman Academy will be most efficient for logistics and operational costs. Sequoyah is the most centrally located of all middle schools, and thanks to a previous investment of $19.5 million from the 2015 bond, the site has good, sizable infrastructure already in place. One example of this is a hardened space that can serve as a place to shelter students during severe weather.
What are the construction details?
- Architect Firm: Selser Schaefer Architects
- Construction Company: Key Construction
- Construction will take approximately 14-16 months
- The project will consist of:
- A two-story, 42,000 square foot classroom building; layout of educational programming is yet to be determined
- Approximately 5,000 square foot of additional cafeteria space
- Possible auxiliary gym and/or practice fields
- Upgraded parking and paved areas
- Increase off-street traffic stacking space
What are the academic benefits of an 8th Grade Academy?
- The creation of an 8th Grade Academy will better prepare students for high school academics. Higher level courses (ex. Algebra 1 and Geometry) that previously didn't have enough enrollment to fill a class will now be an option for students. Using an academy model, students will have improved access to existing career pathways and programming to help students map out their high school journey earlier, freeing up electives at the high school level. When housed all in one facility, the 8th grade population can be divided into smaller teams, allowing staff to create a more personalized learning experience for students and eliminate the age discrepancy existing among three grades. (6th-8th) Some of the proposed curricular changes include a heavy infusion of technology, flexible learning spaces that encourage collaboration across departments, and leadership training to prepare students for success in the high school environment. The 8th Grade Academy will also incorporate parent-focused meetings and trainings to prepare middle school parents for the high school experience.
Will Algebra taken at the 8th Grade Academy count as a high school math class for graduation?
- Students may receive high school math elective credit if taken in 8th grade. Any high school math credit course they take in middle school will not count towards their three required math credits in grades 9-12; a requirement put in place by the Oklahoma State Legislature. However, by taking high school credit courses in 8th grade, students free up more time in their class schedules in 9-12th grades to take concurrent enrollment, athletics, fine arts, Project Pathways and Tulsa Tech courses.
What are the extracurricular benefits of an 8th Grade Academy?
- Aside from the logistical efficiencies associated with transportation and facility operations, a number of unique extracurricular opportunities will be created for 8th graders at the Academy:
- Tiger Camp will introduce 8th grade students to their campus and will set the stage for a positive school culture. This event will be facilitated by students and staff in the Broken Arrow High School Leadership Program and will also serve as an enrollment pipeline for the Freshman Academy and High School Leadership programs.
- Visual Arts can be offered as a high school credit needed for graduation.
- Research of an academy approach suggests positive effects on retention rates, engagement and continuity of instruction as students continue with Fine Arts programming.
- Having space for multiple 8th grade teams to practice in one location will significantly cut the number and time spent on athletic shuttles, giving coaches more time to improve skills and focus on players' development.
- Unify the 8th grade class and promote community through a strong sense of school pride.
- The 8th Grade Academy is scheduled to be complete in 2025, pending no setbacks or supply chain issues.
- A plan now must be developed for redistricting the remaining four middle schools to hold grades six and seven only, and a timeline for these changes will be shared in the next update.
- A staffing plan will be developed to allow teachers and staff an opportunity for collaboration and input.
More information regarding the 8th Grade Academy will be available in the coming months. Please refer back to this page and watch for updates on the district’s social media platforms.