JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education held a special meeting Monday to discuss and arrange forums to determine the feasibility of grade-level grouping for the district's three elementary schools.
The district decided to bring in Brenda McGuire, an educational consultant, to set up a plan of how to start the planning process and address the concerns of the staff and community.
"Bringing Brenda in will help keep the process moving forward to completion," board President Paul VanDenburgh said at the meeting.
Above, Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education President Paul Vandenburgh talks about a planned forum at a special meeting on Monday at the high school. At left is board Vice President Jennifer Sponnoble. At right is Superintendent Robert DeLilli.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
The board decided with McGuire that it would be best for the district to have two two-hour evening forums where people will break into 8- to 10- person groups to look at six areas of concern with one board member acting as the facilitator.
The district has studied grade-level grouping as the number of students has decreased and the district seeks ways to be more efficient.
The district has kindergarten through sixth-grade students at its three elementary schools. Glebe Street Elementary School has 319 students in 14 rooms. Pleasant Avenue Elementary School has 297 students in 14 classrooms. Warren Street Elementary School has 334 students in 14 classrooms and prekindergarten.
The Greater Johnstown School District scheduled two forums to discuss two different grade-level groupings for elementary students. The first forum will be held Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. after the school board meeting at the high school. The second forum will be held Dec. 20 at the high school. No time was announced.
The first public forum will be held after the regular meeting Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. to discuss the plan if the district were to send prekindergarten through first-grade students to Pleasant Avenue Elementary School, second- and third-grade students to Glebe Street Elementary School and fourth- through sixth-grade students to Warren Street Elementary School.
The second public forum will be Dec. 20, but no time was announced at the meeting. That meeting will discuss the plan if the district were to send prekindergarten through first-grade students to Pleasant Avenue School, second- through fourth-grade students to Warren Street School and fifth- through sixth-grade students to Glebe Street School.
The six areas of concern that will be the focus of each group at the meetings include "special area," "parents," "transportation," "teacher support," "communication" and "logistics."
The "special area" group will cover classes like physical education, music, art, special education, Academic Intervention Services and other existing activities or programs.
In the "parents" group, people will discuss parental concerns and develop a strategy for how the district can work around or adapt to accommodate concerns parents have.
"Transportation" will discuss the feasibility of routes and determine how much of a change the district will need to make if a grade-level grouping is implemented.
The "communication" group will discuss the best outlets and ways to disseminate information about what will happen to the residents of the district. The staff support group will create a strategy to meet the concerns teachers and staff may have about how a change may affect the classroom setting.
The "logistics" group will estimate how much the plan will cost, how it will be done, think of steps for the plan to be implemented in and determine how the BOCES classrooms will fit into the plan.
"There are many things as educators we think about, but we can't think of everything," Superintendent Robert DeLilli said. "We have to evolve, and it is important to receive input from as many community members as we can."
McGuire said the idea behind these meetings will be to plan and format the concerns people may have into actual strategies to make the process happen and move forward.
She also said after these focus-group meetings are completed, the board will collect the specific information and develop a committee to continue with phase two of the process.
"This is a great way to get people to communicate in these smaller focus groups," McGuire said.