Starting next school year, Hamburg’s Noble/Albritton Elementary School will return to being two separate schools.

The Hamburg School Board voted Monday to separate the schools, with the Noble building becoming a school for pre-kindergarten through second grade and Albritton serving third through fifth grade students.

Angela Maize will be the principal at Noble, while Tricia Johnson will be the principal at Albritton. Blake Higginbotham and Chris Hammond will serve as the respective schools’ assistant principals.

The vote came at the recommendation of Superintendent Tracy Streeter, and at the behest of the Noble/Albritton administrators, who addressed the request to the board in a letter.

The combined school has nearly 700 students in kindergarten through fifth grades, and another 120 at the pre-kindergarten level. It also has 56 certified teachers and 32 classified employees in addition to a number of other support and services staff, the letter said. Making the split would help administrators better support the school’s educational mission.

“We are stretched between so many people that time spent with individuals is limited. Staff feels unappreciated and morale drops,” the letter said in part. “We want to be instructional leaders ands pend more time in the classrooms giving focused feedback and having meaningful conversations with teachers to improve instruction.”

School Board President Shawn Hickman said she had a student at Noble/Albritton at the time the schools were consolidated, and she had seen firsthand how the consolidation had affected relationships.

Streeter said Tuesday that she was the principal at the lower elementary when the buildings were combined, and that while in theory the idea had sounded good, it didn’t always work out how it was intended.

“(The) intent was to get a consistent journey toward student achievement,” Streeter said. “(It was) the hardest job ever. You feel like you literally can’t get around to everybody in a week’s time. There are so many peope pulling on you. They need you, they need the guidance, the instruciton.

“If you look at just students, meeting their parents, building those relationships, the curriculam standards and testing, you have a huge day there, and doing grade level meetings for that number of people is an all-day event. (For) awards events, you start at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.”

The re-separation will also help administrators better prepare for testing and student assessment, which have significant differences between the lower and upper elementary grades, because they won’t be dealing with as many variables, she said.

The change will not significantly impact costs at the district, Streeter said.

“When you look at money and cost, it is not a big deal,” she said. “(We are) dropping a dean of students position and will have two principals and two assistants, and both of those can evaluate teachers. They almost have the same authority, except the buck stops with the principal.”

In addition to setting the change for Noble/Albritton for next fall, the board voted to extend Streeter’s contract by a year, which gives her a three-year contract.

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