The Benjamin G. Brown School could lose a grade next year.
Superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi is scheduled to make his second pitch to the School Committee tonight for eliminating Grade 6 at the Benjamin G. Brown School.
Pierantozzi first proposed the measure last spring for the current academic year, but the committee tabled it.
"I led the charge against [the proposal]," said committee vice chair Mark Niedergang, adding that he remains open to the measure for the following academic year.
He said the committee delayed a vote last spring to give parents more time to find alternatives to Grade 6 at Brown, if necessary.
For more than a decade, Niedergang said, Brown sixth graders have moved en masse to the John F. Kennedy Elementary School for grades 7 and 8, where students have excelled in a national history competition in Washington.
The notion that Brown students could end up at other schools starting in grade 6 irked parents, according to Alderman Walter Pero, a School Committee member.
"There was a lot of pressure from parents [against the change]," Pero said.
But Pierantozzi felt financial pressure, according to Niedergang. He said the superintendent told committee members that a growing number of fifth graders at Brown would require two teachers in Grade 6, which the school district couldn't afford. Thirty-five fifth graders are enrolled at Brown this year, a "substantially higher" number than usual, Niedergang said.
Pierantozzi did not return messages on Tuesday. Gretchen Kinder, research and development director for the school district, said in an e-mail that the budget crunch is only part of the story.
"While motivated by financial considerations, there is an instructional concern as the Somerville Public Schools, at the direction of the School Committee, is in the midst of a significant overhaul of its instructional programs for youth in grades 6-8 at all of our schools," Kinder said.
Niedergang said the committee would vote on the proposal by the end of December, noting that if members approve the measure, seniority status would determine the fate of the current sixth grade teacher at Brown.
Tonight's meeting - scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Somerville High Library - will not include public comment. A public input meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 30, and Niedergang expects a crowd.
"This is one of the hottest topics," he said.