SIDNEY — The process for configuring the elementary schools for Sidney City Schools is proceeding.
“All the teachers know their assignments for next year,” said Superintendent Bob Humble. “We’re now pulling together a moving schedule to move teachers and equipment.”
The adoption of the 2019-20 school calendar, said Humble, is allowing the district to have more time over the summer to complete the moves. The first day of school will be after Labor Day. The district added 30 minutes onto each school day to allow for the later start of the school year and still have the last day of school in May.
The new lineup for the district’s elementary schools includes:
• Whittier Elementary School, preschool
• Longfellow Elementary School, kindergarten to second grade
• Emerson Elementary School, kindergarten to second grade
• Northwood Elementary School, third and fourth grade
• Sidney Middle School, all fifth-grade students in addition to grades six to eight.
“The majority of teachers going to preschool are super excited,” said Tiffany Rank, SCS communications coordinator.
“We had a scheduled meeting on Jan. 25 for a meet and greet at the new building for the principal and staff,” said Brooke Gessler, director of curriculum.
The need for the restructuring of the district buildings is a result of declining enrollment, said Humble.
“As the enrollment drops, you have to adjust,” said Humble. “The district has had a 12 year enrollment drop.”
A committee, said Mike Watkins, treasurer, meets every Friday to discuss the reconfiguration process and to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed in preparation for the new school year.
“We talk about what’s happened that week and what will happen during the upcoming week,” said Watkins.
“We are treating these as construction meetings,” said Humble. “We have a spread sheet and a check list to keep our ducks in a row.”
District officials are planning for purchases for the new preschool program, said Humble. New playground equipment appropriate for special needs and typical preschool students will be installed at Whittier.
The playground equipment at Whittier will be moved to Sidney Middle School for the fifth- and sixth-graders to use during recess.
Beth Abbott, who is currently an MH teacher in the district, is the new coordinator for the preschool program. Her title is student services coordinator. For the remainder of the school year, she will be housed at the board of education building; for the new school year, she will be based out of Whittier Elementary School.
“For two days each week, Beth will be at Shelby Hills (for the remainder of the school year,” said Humble. “She is watching the kids and is attending IEP meetings. She has a great relationship with Shelby Hills.”
The preschool program will be operated four days a week, the same as it is now at Shelby Hills. There will be two sessions a day with each session lasting 3 hours and 15 minutes.
“We’re going to mirror for typical student costs of what Shelby Hills is doing now,” said Humble.
Registration for the fall will begin in March with registration forms available on March 11 at the BOE office and online.
Sidney officials are estimating 100 students attending the preschool program. Special needs students begin classes on their third birthdays and attend until they age out at five years old and are eligible for kindergarten.
“The special needs students also includes students who need speech therapy,” said Humble.”Currently, children are screened every month at Shelby Hills to see if they are eligible for preschool. In May, we’ll start to do our own screening. This screening is for the three-year-old children and Shelby Hills will continue to do it for us until May.”
Humble said because a child may turn 3 during the school year — and is eligible for the preschool program — some spots in the classes will be left open for the child to join mid-school year.
There will be 11 preschool classes at Whittier.
“There will be no more than 16 kids in a class,” said Humble. “Some will be up to eight special needs and up to eight typical kids. Some will be up to six special needs children and up to 10 typical kids.”
A “One Call” has been sent to parents for transportation information for the new school year.
“We’re determining which students are eligible for transportation,” said Watkins. “If this was a traditional school year, parents wouldn’t know about transportation until July. The two-mile boundry for transportation is going to look a little bit different for next year.”
“We think more people will be eligible to be transported to school,” said Humble. “Once we get start times for the buildings, open houses set, we’ll know the transportation needs better. A parent calendar will be available within the next two weeks.
Because of the reconfiguration of the district, no teachers had to be laid off.
“We’re better able to utilize our staff,” said Humble of the changes for next year.
One aide, he said, will be used as a substitute bus driveer.
“We told the person if they went through the bus driver training we would keep them as an aide,” said Humble. “If they are subbing as a driver, then they will be an aide for the rest of the day.”
Watkins said the changes will help the district’s financial future.
“This is going to help,” said Watkins. “We’re going to see some level of savings by bringing the preschool back and through the reconfiguration.”
Gessler said she’s excited about expanding the educational opportunities for the teachers and students in the district.
“We4’ll be changing up their professional learning and what they’ll need for their classes,” said Gessler. “The learning voice will be concentrated on the young kids with special needs. Most of them need speech therapy. We’ll be providing a different kind of professional learning for our teachers.”
Humble said several teachers will be obtaining additional certification as intervention specialists for preschool.”
Questions about the reconfiguration can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will continue to respond to the questions emailed to us,” said Gessler.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.