Johnstown plans for grade-level grouping

JOHNSTOWN – Topics including transportation and staffing were addressed Thursday at the first meeting of the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education’s Grade-Level Grouping Committee.

The committee met with district administrators and the three elementary school principals to share what has been done so far regarding classroom changes planned for the 2014-15 school year. District Director of Curriculum, Testing and Personnel Director Patricia Kilburn led the discussion.

Warren Street Elementary School Principal Scott Ziomek suggested a letter be sent in November to district parents.

“It opens up the opportunity for communications, which is going to be so important,” Ziomek said.

Glebe Street Elementary School Principal Abbey North said scheduling at the three grade school buildings will be different.

The three buildings will undergo a conversion next school year from neighborhood-based schools to grade-level grouping. District officials say the new system will be a more efficient way of educating elementary school students.

Grades at the elementary schools will be placed this way: prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School; grades two and three at Glebe Street Elementary School; and grades four, five and six at Warren Street Elementary School.

Kilburn went through areas that will have to be addressed with the building changes, starting with transportation. She said a goal will be to create a city shuttle using Warren Street Elementary School as a bus hub. She said the district will have a practice run with buses in the spring, perhaps tied to a school orientation event.

Kilburn said Superintendent Robert DeLilli has met twice with a Johnstown Teachers Association official.

“The goal is to develop a teacher placement process by February 2014,” Kilburn said.

The district is adding two additional half-days to the elementary school calendar for teachers to move materials. The district is considering hiring three temporary workers to help with moving, which DeLilli said probably will be done at the end of June. The Buildings and Grounds Department is revising summer cleaning schedules to allow for moving.

“It’s anticipated everybody will be moving,” DeLilli said.

The district created 900 square feet of classroom space at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School during the summer, and Kilburn said the plan is to create three more primary classrooms during this school year, the last being after Memorial Day.

Kilburn said the district plans to consolidate the district’s “welcome committees” to better address school and student needs.

North said a plan is being developed to conduct a districtwide “celebration” later this school year as days wind down for the traditional elementary schools at Glebe Street, Pleasant Avenue and Warren Street.

The Central Council Parent-Teacher Association will dedicate meeting time to reorganizing its structure to better support each school PTA’s transition to grade-level grouping.

“We really have to work on external and internal communications,” Kilburn said.

She said the district created a website that may be up next week for staff use.

Pleasant Avenue Elementary School Principal Jeff Vivenzio said he met with the prekindergarten, kindergarten and first- grade teachers, and a mission statement was formed. It stresses creating “lifelong learners” among children.

“We want them to love school,” he said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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