By Jeff Gallatin
School officials are planning on turning Maple School into a third- through sixth-grade intermediate school and Birch School into a kindergarten through second-grade school for the 2013-2014 school year.
Interim Superintendent Terry Krivak said the moves will affect about 110 students.
“It will help alleviate the issues of lack of space and crowded classes at Birch School which occurred this year,” he said.
School officials sent a letter home to Birch School parents last week outlining the plans for the move.
Birch Principal Frank Samerigo said the move will help the district maximize academic growth at the school.
In the letter, he listed several areas as major benefits from the move. They included:
• eliminating crowded classrooms and lack of space at Birch;
• creating smaller class sizes by increasing sections from four to five per grade level;
• combining third grade and fourth grade within the same building, which will significantly reduce the possibility of retention in the area of reading due to the implementation of the “Third Grade Guarantee,” and,
• providing full-day kindergarten.
Samerigo said school officials will work with each other, the students and their families to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“By working with Mr. Alexandrou and Maple School personnel, we plan to provide a smooth transition for all children,” Samerigo said in the letter. “The transition plan will include a scheduled visitation and orientation for all current second- and third-graders.”
Krivak said the affected families will be notified of the visits and orientation well in advance.
He noted the students would have been going to Maple School in the future, and that the switch of the third-graders from Birch to Maple merely sends them to Maple a year earlier than they would have gone previously.
Krivak said the smaller classes and better learning environment will aid the district as it works to meet the upcoming third grade reading guarantee guidelines mandated by the state for the upcoming year.
In addition, the change will help the district as it also makes the transition to providing all-day kindergarten for younger students.
“We would have had a hard time accommodating them without the change,” he said. “This way we can have the third-graders at the new location and the all-day kindergarten at the other.”
Krivak said the moves again show the need for the district to continue work on developing new facility plans to cope with changing enrollment patterns.
He said the district is also working on plans for its special education classes for the upcoming school year, and will be coming to the school board with those plans in the next few weeks.