T he usual start-of-school jitters may be even more intense than usual next week, as the Granville schools open the year with new principals in two schools, a new director of special education, a new chief information officer and a second-year principal at the high school.
Add to that the addition of new state regulations for evaluating teachers and some subpar results on state standardized testing and Regents exams and an unresolved teachers’ contract, and it all makes for a challenging year.
On the other hand, according to school principals, it’s been a summer of progress, with the schedules being reorganized at the high school, a great deal of in-service training, especially on reading, and a focus on holding students to higher standards.
“We all have this idea that teachers are off all summer,” said Diane Dumas, who moves from Granville Elementary School to Mary J. Tanner School this year. “But we have had so many teachers out at so many training, it’s been great.”
The high school principal, Jim Donnelly, who is welcoming at least five new teachers and a new guidance counselor, said his teachers have also been at trainings and added that several groups of teacher who teach specific grades have gotten together to make plans for the new year.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of work going on this summer,” Donnelly said. “We’re getting ready.”
Doors open Sept. 5
Most teachers have already been in their classrooms and are getting prepared for opening day. In several fourth-grade classrooms at GES, desks are in place and all the materials are neatly set on them.
Teachers officially report for work on Tuesday, Sept. 4, for superintendent’s day, which will involve meetings and workshops. School opens the following day.
High school students should all report to their home rooms for a brief period. Students must be in the classroom by 7:53 a.m. After the short home room period, they will start their regular schedules.
Parents of incoming kindergarteners are invited to Mary J. Tanner School, where buses will arrive at 8:55 a.m. They will have already dropped the fourth- through sixth-graders off at GES.
This year, the third-grade classes will be at MJT. As of Aug. 24, enrollment numbers showed 332 students set to attend MJT, but school officials said those numbers will fluctuate until school is open and slightly beyond that. There are no new teachers on the pre-K to grade 3 staff, but the third-grade teachers will be adjusting to a new building.
MJT will have an open house for incoming prekindergarten and kindergarten students and parents from 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Jane O’Shea will welcome about 251 students in grades four through six. There will be one new teacher, Karen Jones, who will teach fourth grade.
More than half of the students in the district will be at the high school, which had 663 students registered Aug. 24. Again, those number will change, school officials said. The freshman class will include students who did their elementary school years at Metawee Community School and Wells Village School.
As of Aug. 24, there were 59 Granville students registered to take technical classes through the BOCES facility in Hudson Falls. Again, those numbers will likely change.
New faces, challenges
Besides the principals, the district also has two new administrators in Diane Quick, who became chief information officer last April and Camille Harrelson, who became special education director after holding a similar position at Argyle.
Teachers will be giving baseline assessments to their students at the beginning of the year to see what knowledge the students have in their subject areas. These will be compared to end-of-year tests measuring student progress and will count for 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Standardized test scores, when available, will count another 20 percent, and evaluations and other methods will make up the remaining 60 percent.
Teachers must agree to the arrangement or the district will lose a substantial amount of state aid. The teachers’ union and the school board are discussing that topic and the contract as well. Superintendent Mark Bessen said he did not want to comment, because of the policies of the negotiation. Union president Christine Cook said she is waiting to hear from the Board of Education about the possibility of issuing a joint statement.
Last month, Donnelly reviewed the high school’s Regents tests results, which showed deficiencies in several areas, including science and math.
At this week’s board meeting, which was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, school officials were going to present the results of the English and math tests for grades three to eight.