Alexandria sixth-graders would be transferred to middle schools and the school system's integration busing would largely be eliminated, possibly as early as next year, under redistricting plans being considered by the city School Board.

School officials, citing changing demographics and curriculum goals, will begin work this fall on the lengthy process of redrawing elementary attendance boundaries and reassigning grade levels.

Although original plans called for changes by the 1991-92 school year, many officials think redistricting will be delayed a year because of the complexity of the task and the effort to keep the community informed at each step of the way.

Newly elected School Board Chairman A. Melvin Miller said, "I've seen several redistrictings in the city and there's nothing I've seen people more interested in than where their children go to school."

Miller recently assembled a checklist of redistricting goals that would create middle schools for grades six through eight, add a second magnet school to the system, assign students to schools nearest their homes, and eliminate pairing of elementary schools, the practice of coupling schools from opposite ends of the city and busing pupils from one to the other to facilitate integration.

The chairman said the racial mix of Alexandria's neighborhoods has improved dramatically in recent years, largely eliminating the need for school pairings and busing.

The board will discuss his proposed guidelines at a Sept. 6 work session. Miller said he hopes the goals will help focus and speed the redistricting process.

"I would like for us to go into the next school year {1991-92} with the redrawn lines," Miller said. "The longer you drag something out like this the more difficult and wrenching it becomes in the community."

The city's attendance zones were last redrawn in 1984, 11 years after the previous reconfiguration, according to school officials. In recent years the student population has dropped to just over 9,200, with the proportion of elementary school students showing a marked increase.

Alexandria schools, like other systems, are also anticipating tough budget negotiations this coming year in the wake of state funding cutbacks announced recently by Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

"We still don't know what cuts there will be or the numbers, but it's clear it will be a tight budget year," Miller said.

For the first time, all elementary schools this year will have a full-time guidance counselor and a social worker. During last year's budget discussions, Superintendent Paul W. Masem said students sometimes performed poorly because of pressures they encountered at home or in the community, and that it was time schools made a greater effort to reach those students.

Four elementary schools also added all-day kindergarten programs for this coming year, bringing the total to six schools. The new programs at Patrick Henry, Mount Vernon, George Mason and William Ramsay were easily filled through a June lottery, leaving each school with lengthy waiting lists.

"We appear to be providing a program that has a great deal of demand and has been well accepted," said Gene C. Lange, a board member who pushed his colleagues to increase the original proposal from two new schools up to four.

Lange deflected any argument that all-day kindergarten was nothing more than day care, saying the children are engaged in "organized activities that have sound developmental bases behind them."

The George Mason Task Force, formed last spring after some parents expressed concern that the school suffered discipline problems and that some third-graders were being held back educationally, is scheduled to deliver a preliminary evaluation at the Sept. 6 board meeting. The report will address four areas: curriculum, discipline, teacher morale and human relations.

Board Vice Chairman Angie Godfrey, who sits on the panel of teachers and community members, said past problems may have arisen because of poor communication among the principal, teachers and parents.