Which do you prefer and why: a school that is K-8 or one that is K-6 with a separate ( at another site) 7-8?
Our district is contemplating going from 3 sites of K-6 and a separate Middle School for 7-8 graders to all three sites being K-8. We would close one site to save money. I am concerned with the idea of having 8th graders on the same site as Kindergartners. I have heard that the older students act out less and have less behavior issues when left at the elementary site. We are isolated from other districts due to a remote location so our kids don't interact with anyone other than each other if they are not bused at least one and a half hours to sports activities. We will probably have to drop these activities next year due to budget cutbacks but would we be limiting them further by not allowing them to interact with the others their age from the other sites? How do K-8 schools handle recesses for that many ages?
I think the potential for success on a K-8 campus depends a lot on who the 8th graders are!
My son started school on a K-8 campus. In our case, it was not a healthy environment. It was a very large school with a high percentage of low income students. My kindergartner was exposed to a lot of behavior that was too much for a five year old to handle (foul language, violence on the playground, students being disrespectful to teachers, students "loitering" after school and intimidating the younger kids, etc).
We moved him to another school after kindergarten. It was a small private religious school that was also K-8. At that school having 8th graders on campus was a huge asset. They were wonderful role models for the younger kids and the school did a lot to pair up older kids with younger kids for "buddy" activities which everyone got a lot of value from.
So I think if you're dealing with a student body of mostly "good apples" (respectful, well behaved kids), a K-8 campus can be great. But if you have too many "bad apples", it can quickly become a frightening and unhealthy place.
It's really hard to think about all the difficult decisions and sacrifices our schools are being forced to make as they figure out how to survive these enormous budget cuts!
In this day and time, everyone is trying to meet budget needs through changes and often efforts to improve efficiency. There have been many studies done on this topic- what is the 'right' organization for maximum student learning. There is no clear 'right' structure-- from K-8 to 6-8 to 7-9, it really makes no academic difference. What is critical is a combination of two factors- the quality of the teachers your child has and the quality of the principal who runs the school.
I live in a rural community that has changed grade structures numerous times. Yet we have had young people attend Harvard, Princeton and a host of outstanding higher education institutions, and they all did fine.
Hope this helps- and don't allow grade structure to be a hindrance to your child's positive attitude towards school.