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Middle School Reconfiguration FAQ


Thank you for your interest in the reconfiguration of our middle schools.  To help parents, guardians, community members, staff and students better understand the reconfiguration process, please review our Frequently Asked Questions.  We value the input of every student and parent. If your question is not answered below, please visit our Question Not Answered link and submit your question.

Our reconfiguration committees have met throughout this year working out the details of the reconfiguration. This FAQ was updated April 14, 2017 based on their work and will continue to be revised throughout the spring and summer.  Only confirmed details are included in the FAQ.


Why are the schools changing?

In response to increasing elementary enrollment, we are reconfiguring our two current middle schools into one fifth and sixth grade intermediate school and one seventh and eighth grade middle school. Our elementary schools’ full-time enrollment is at an all-time high while our middle school enrollment is at its lowest level.  The increase in elementary enrollment required the installation of portables at each of our five elementary schools despite having available classrooms at our middle schools.  With continued growth on the horizon, we investigated and reviewed many solutions for this issue.  We also surveyed parents, teachers and administrators to receive their input. The reconfiguration was the most popular solution and viewed as an opportunity to improve our instructional program and services while addressing space issues.

What was the process in determining a reconfiguration was needed?

After reviewing a variety of solutions into the growing issue of classroom space at our elementary schools, we surveyed parents, educators and administrators.  An overwhelming majority supported creating a fifth and sixth grade intermediate school and a seventh and eighth grade middle school. After School Board approval, a reconfiguration steering committee was formed.  The team worked with administrators from the Bainbridge School District who have run a similar model for 18 years with great results.  In addition, we formed two subcommittees, one to begin planning the new intermediate school and one to begin planning the new middle school.


When can my child pick up their schedule?

Schedules for Oak Harbor Intermediate School will be available August 21-25 and August 28-31.  Parents may pick up their child’s schedule during office hours 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Schedule pickup for North Whidbey Middle School is the following;

August 23, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
August 22, 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.
August 24, Noon - 7 p.m. 

What will the bell schedule and transportation look like at the schools?

Start times for all school levels for the 2017-18 school year have been finalized to accommodate the reconfiguration. The elementary school schedule is the same as this year. The intermediate school schedule will overlap the elementary schedule (but is 10 minutes longer) and students will ride the bus with fellow elementary students. Middle school and high school times are also changed for next year. Individual routes and times are still in the planning phase.  

Below you will find a chart listing times for each level.  Arrival time refers to the time students are dropped off at the school by their bus.  Start and end times refer to the first and final bell, respectively.  Pick-up time refers to when students will board buses.  The school day is the amount of instruction time.



Arrival at School

School Day Starts

School Day Ends*

Bus Pick-up*

School Day


8:35 am

9:00 am

3:20 pm

3:20 pm

6 hours 20 min


8:20 am

8:55 am

3:25 pm

3:30-3:35 pm

6 hours 30 min


7:15 am

7:45 am

2:15 pm

2:15 pm

6 hours 30 min


7:30 am

8:00 am

2:30 pm

2:30 pm

6 hours 30 min

*NOTE: Monday release times and bus pick-up times will be one hour earlier than the times listed.

The steering committee determined it was best to have students from the intermediate school ride on the elementary bus.  This option allows for the transfer of students to different buses when the buses drop off at the intermediate school.  This only impacts a small percentage of our elementary students who attend special programs that are only offered in schools outside their attendance area (e.g., Highly Capable students that attend at Broad View and some special education programs that are only in one school).  Parents are not permitted to drop off or pick up their elementary students at Oak Harbor Intermediate School to ride their transfer bus.

How will Oak Harbor Public Schools address the different learning levels for students including special needs and highly capable?

The reconfiguration provides us the opportunity to offer more support services for our students.  Grouping students by two grades under one building creates more resources allowing us to consolidate services previously divided among the schools.  As a result, we can be more flexible with scheduling and efficient in providing this support.  All students who qualify will still be offered access to remedial, special education and advanced programs with greater options.

How will identified highly capable students receive services in fifth and sixth grade?

Fifth grade students who demonstrated a need for academic challenge in both language arts and math will be placed in a literacy and a STEM advanced learning class or in the advanced learning class of their strength.  Sixth grade students who demonstrated a need for academic challenge in language arts, math and/or science will most likely be placed in advanced learning classes in their areas of strength.

How will Oak Harbor Public Schools ensure a smooth transition for students?

We will offer a series of transition activities for families to make them feel welcome at both schools.  Prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year, parents/guardians will receive updated information about transition opportunities available to their student at their new school. In addition, schools will provide orientations and welcome activities.  Oak Harbor Intermediate School will host fifth and sixth day orientations in August.

When will the schools go back to being normal middle schools?

We hope this new approach to learning is an improvement for students, parents, teachers and administrators.  We will continually refine the new instructional model and make the necessary improvements to enhance the student learning experience. The success of this change could result in this remaining the standard for our school district for the long-term.  In a similar-sized school district, the reconfiguration model was widely accepted and when space was no longer an issue, the district remained with the intermediate and middle school structure due to overwhelming parent and staff support.  

How will teachers and staff be placed?

The district and employee unions collaboratively developed a process for the placement of staff. All teaching positions in each building were treated like new positions. Current teachers indicated which positions they preferred. When there was more than one applicant for a position, the candidates were interviewed for those positions. Priority was given to teachers based on their preferred option and areas of strength, provided there were openings and that they had the appropriate certification and qualifications. All remaining openings were posted to external applicants, who were screened and interviewed. At this point, nearly all of the Middle School and Intermediate Teaching position have been filled.

How will reconfiguration affect kindergarten students living in the Hillcrest Elementary attendance area?

Moving the fifth grade students to the intermediate school will create additional space for kindergarten students to attend school in their attendance area.  Hillcrest Elementary will be accepting kindergarteners from their attendance area beginning in September 2017.


What will the class structure or instructional model look like for fifth and sixth graders?

The reconfiguration will allow us to better prepare your child for the next step in their education.  The structure will most closely resemble an elementary school model, but will increase the number of teachers each student sees each year from one to two to three.

The fifth grade instructional model will change from students having one teacher in elementary to a two-teacher team.  One of the two teachers will focus on math and science while the other on English Language Arts and Social Studies.  The teacher team will determine subject rotations, class make-up and instructional learning times.  The two-teacher team will consist of roughly 56 students.  Each student will also be able to select at least one elective per semester.  

Sixth graders will operate in a format similar to fifth grade, except with a three-teacher team and about 90 students.  The three-teacher team will focus on literacy (English Language Arts/ Social Studies), science and math.  The teachers will determine the subject rotations, class make-up and instructional learning times. Sixth graders will also be able to request at least one elective/specialist per semester.

Will the intermediate school be similar to an elementary or secondary format?

The intermediate school will be most similar to an elementary school.  It will have designated recess times and rolling lunches, similar to what elementary schools currently offer. It will not have defined class periods.  Instead, teacher teams will be able to group and rotate students to best meet student needs.  Oak Harbor Intermediate School will have age appropriate playground equipment to accommodate the needs of their students.  The school will feature a variety of team and competitive play equipment, along with large motor and balance equipment.

Will fifth and sixth graders have elective/specialist choices?

Yes.  Many of the details of what options will be available and how they will be scheduled are still being finalized by the master schedule committee.  However, music, art, PE and band will certainly be included as options.  We will update this FAQ as more information becomes available.

What after-school opportunities will be available for fifth and sixth graders?

The intermediate school will offer an expanded variety of after-school programs for its students.  These will include a variety of clubs, intramural athletics, and extra help for academics  The interests and needs of students will determine which clubs and activities will be offered.  Students will see a greater number of available options than what is currently offered at the elementary level.

Are there any other activities to attend before the start of the school year?
Additional orientation opportunities for students to become acquainted with the intermediate school are available in August.  The event is called the Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) and is organized by the school’s leadership teachers and students. 

6th Graders  |  August 28, 8 - 11 a.m.  |  OHIS
5th Graders  |  August 29, 8 - 11 a.m.  |  OHIS


How are students placed into honors and advanced courses?

Students will be placed into core classes based on their academic needs.  The school determines if a student is eligible for an advanced or honors courses based on a variety of information, including Gifted And Talented testing results, state and school-based learning assessments, parent requests, and academic achievement in the classroom.  For most students, the core courses they enroll into next year will be the next in sequence after the course they recently completed.  For instance, a current 6th grade student in Math Course 1-2 will take Math Course 2-3 as a seventh grader.  If a student or parent has questions about their child’s placement in core courses for next year, they should contact the NWMS counselors at 360-279-5500.


What will the class structure or instructional model look like for seventh and eighth graders?

The reconfiguration allows us to better prepare these students for high school by having all of the 7th and 8th graders in the same school. We will retain the current six-period day and advisory program used in both middle schools. However, students will share a team of teachers in core classes similar to high school’s highly-successful ninth grade “Islands” program.  Groups of students from the same grade will be placed with four core teachers overseeing a shared group of students in English, social studies, math and science.  Two electives will be taught each day during the same six-period format.  Consolidating seventh and eighth grade students in the same building allows for many advantages.  Students will have more elective options than in prior years, teachers will work in teams to provide better learning environments for students and we will be able to offer a wider range of support services.

Will the middle school be similar to an elementary or secondary format?

The middle school will be similar to our current model. It will continue to offer a six-period day with more electives, advanced and remedial programs, and a “team” or “school-within-a-school” model to better support our students.

Will seventh and eighth graders still have elective choices?

Yes, most or all of the current electives from both middle schools will be offered at the new school with additions such as home and consumer sciences. Students will complete an Elective Preference Survey this spring or when they register, and their input will be used to make course placements.  We will update this FAQ as more information becomes available.

What after-school opportunities will be available for seventh and eighth graders?

Our combined middle school will continue to offer middle-level sports programs under the guidelines of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).  In addition to our current offerings, we are starting boys and girls soccer next year to compete with other teams in our league. We are looking at other possible additions to expand our interscholastic program.

In addition to the traveling teams, the middle school will also offer a “no-cut” intramural program, allowing every student the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. Intramural sports will run concurrently with the traveling teams, allowing for more student participation. Other intramural sports are under consideration.

In addition, the middle school will offer an expanded variety of after-school clubs and other school academic support opportunities.  The Associated Student Body (ASB) program and leadership opportunities will be similar in structure as used at both of our current middle schools.