T he 2013-14 school year begins Wednesday and ushers in some significant change within the Granville Central School District.
The district has hired a number of new teachers and plans to implement a number of new initiatives, but the biggest change is how students get to and from school each day.
The district is switching from a two-tier bus system to a single-tier system.
The goal of the one-tier transportation system is to have all the students from all three schools on the buses at the same time. Previously, the district would transport high school students and then return to the same routes to pick up elementary school students.
The new single-tier system will require 14 bus routes; the old system required seven for the “high school run” and nine for the “elementary run.”
Many of the traditional bus routes that local residents have grown accustomed to will be different.
“There are going to be buses on different roads and there’s going to be a change in the traffic flow in the village,” Transportation Manager John Steves said last month. “People are going to see some changes.”
As a consequence of the single-tier system, the school day will begin earlier for students at the elementary level.
While the school day at the high school will remain unchanged (7:53 start time, 2:24 dismissal), students at the Elementary School and at Mary J. Tanner will begin and end their day an hour earlier. The school day will begin at 8:05 a.m. at the Elementary School and dismissal will be at 2:35 p.m. At Mary J. Tanner, the school day will begin at 8:15 a.m. and dismissal will be at 2:45 p.m.
The other significant change will affect students who are dropped off and picked up at the school, particularly the Elementary School.
Steves said parents will be asked to drop off their students in a different location because the curb where students have been dropped off at in the past will be occupied by additional buses.
He said that portion of the parking lot will effectively be closed in the morning and afternoon and parents dropping off their students will be directed to a different part of the parking lot where faculty will help guide students to and from the school.
Superintendent Mark Bessen said the district is working with students and parents to alleviate any concerns about the changes.
“Change can be tough sometimes but I think after a few days everything will settle down and everyone will get used to,” Bessen said.
Besides the changes to transportation, the district will implement and continue to build on a number of instructional initiatives.
Bessen said the district has been working closely with state education department to implement a new “response to intervention model” at the high school.
“It’s something we need to address,” he said. “It has to do with students who may struggle. How do we identify them and the areas where they are struggle ad how do we come up with a plan for improvement. And then how do determine if that invention is making a positive change,” Bessen said.
Typically, there are three levels or “tiers” of intervention. Tier 1 consists or providing instruction to all students in the general education class. Tier 2 intervention usually involves additional instruction outside the classroom. Tier 3 interventions typically consist of more frequent Tier 2 interventions.
Bessen said the district has already implemented a Response to Intervention model at the elementary levels.
The district will also examine how it can more effectively deliver Common Core curriculum.
Last year was the first year many of the standardized tests were based on the standards and Bessen said the officials will now examine that test data to see where changes need to be make.
“We’ll look at the different delivery models,” he said.
Last spring, Granville was one of five local schools that received funding through the Strengthening Teacher and Leadership Effectiveness Program to identify “teacher-leaders” who will help train colleagues to improve implementation of the Common Core standards.
Although not a new initiative, the district will continue to examine the ways to collaborate with other area schools to increase and improve the opportunities it provides students.
Granville, along with six other area schools, are already part of the Washington County Collaborative, that examines ways the districts can share services, be that employees or distant learning opportunities. Those districts are already sharing a chief information officer as well a handful of upper level classes.
Bessen said leaders from each of the districts will meet in October.
“We’ll explore how we can build our capacity by working together,” he said, adding that the meeting will help open up communications.
One of the things the district and the board of education intend to build on is the public forums on various issues of importance regarding education.
The public forums were implemented last year and touched upon various topics, including drug use and mental health.
There will be a number of the forums held throughout the course of the school year. Bessen said one of the forums will explore declining participation in extracurricular activities.
Bessen said the number of students who participate in sports or extracurricular activities continues to wane, reflecting what is becoming a national trend.
“We know there could be more involved. Back in the day, there used to be 50 or 60 kids involved in something. We’ll look at what we can do to increase those numbers,” Bessen said.
The district held a seventh grade orientation night Wednesday to help students get acclimated with the high school as they make the transition from the elementary school and will hold a similar event for incoming kindergarten students and their parents on Sept. 2.
“It helps the parents and kids to see the rooms and get a through the anxiety,” Bessen said.
He said the staff is looking forward to upcoming year.
“Everyone is pumped and rejuvenated,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it.”