Important Update Regarding Pk-8 Reconfiguration Study
*Update January 31, 2017
2017-18 School Start & End Times Finalized
Thank you for your recent participation in the survey regarding the school day start and end times beginning with the 2017-18 school year. As expected, the input provided by our parents/guardians, students, and community was very diverse, just like the feedback from our staff.
As promised, I have met with members of the Leadership Team to analyze all the input provided to determine the new school day start and end times for next school year. Our focus remains on our district purpose - to achieve the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student.
The NEW school day start and end times beginning August, 2017 include:
Grade2017-18School StartTime2017-18School EndTime HS (Grades 9-12) 8:00 a.m. 2:55 p.m. MS (Grades 7-8) 8:00 a.m. 2:55 p.m. Grade 6 8:00 a.m. 2:55 p.m. Grades 4-5 9:00 a.m. 3:40 p.m. Grades 1-3 9:00 a.m. 3:40 p.m. K 8:50 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
* Please note - half-day kindergarten registration and pre-school schedule information will be provided during the registration process.
In an effort to support our continuous improvement plan (CIP) data and progress monitoring, I believe it is essential to also build time into our school calendar to allow for structured reviews and collaboration by staff on overall building performance related to our accountability measures. Therefore, I will also be recommending to the Board of Education that the 2017-18 school calendar be amended to include four, not eight, 2-hour delayed starts for all K-12 students on the following dates: October 11, 2017, November 8, 2017, January 10, 2018, and March 14, 2018.
Again, I want to sincerely thank you for participating and providing input throughout the reconfiguration and school day start and end time process. Now that we have reached decisions on where students will be placed on our school campus and when, planning will continue to answer many, many more questions about the structures and logistics of student learning opportunities within each school day. We will continue to share more information by specific grade-levels throughout the spring and summer as planning continues for our next school year.
*Update January 24, 2017
Presentation from the State of the Schools - January 23, 2017
Reconfiguration & School Start & End Time info, including an additional parent survey is below.
Thank you for your recent participation in the survey regarding school day start and end times beginning with the 2017-18 school year. As expected, the input provided by our parents/guardians, students, and community was very diverse, just like our staff member responses.
Detailed summary information on the results are available here for your review.
Quick overarching highlights include:
- Responses were very split across the parents, students, community and staff, with no clear consensus emerging with strong support for any of the three options that were presented.
- No majority wants to begin school at 7:35 a.m.
- Families do not want to have three different start and end times for students and do not want their younger students to be on a split schedule.
- Additional instructional time is desired for all K-12 students.
Our focus remains on our district purpose - to achieve the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student. Your comments guided us to create a NEW option that I am presenting to you for input and comments.
The NEW option incorporates the following, as overwhelmingly requested by parents/guardians, students, and staff:
- Focus on what is best for students
- Increase instructional time for all students in grades K-12
- Maximize existing resources (space, staff, transportation, etc.)
- Balance all interests expressed by staff, parents, and students
- Require less change overall
- Maintain the same school day start time for grades 6-12 as today
- Allow K-5 to begin earlier than the current start time
- Keep grades K-5 on the same bell schedule, as overwhelmingly desired by families
- Maintain two bell schedules (grades 6-12 and grades K-5) while eliminating overcrowding and increasing opportunities for students (e.g., all-day K)
- Maintain the same transportation groupings as today with current practices (grades K-5 all students get transportation; grades 6-12 with 2-mile eligibility and the parking pass rule)
Ease the transition from elementary to middle school for students by holding 6th grade specials in the Middle School
NEW RECOMMENDED OPTION FOR INPUT:
Most importantly, this NEW option increases academic instructional time for ALL K-12 students. To do so requires the shortening of the teacher collaboration time available before or after the current student day. Recognizing the importance and value that such time provides for our teaching faculty, I intend to recommend that the school calendar be amended to include eight 2-hour delays (late starts) during the school year for teacher collaboration and planning in the areas of accountability, data analysis, curriculum, instructional practices, analysis of student work, and common assessments. I envision that a late start will occur on a standardized day and week monthly throughout the school year, with the exception of August and December, to insure that our families may prepare accordingly in advance. I am excited that this NEW option will further maximize our ability to use existing resources without additional costs.
Recognizing that this NEW option is different than the previous three presented, I want to provide the opportunity for you to offer input again, as desired. I invite you to complete a short survey regarding this NEW option by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 27, 2017.
Leadership Team members will analyze input received for the NEW option through next Monday to confirm which option is best for students. I will announce the official 2017-18 school day start and end times on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 to our school community.
*Update January 16, 2017Presentation from the Board of Education Update January 12, 2017
Dear New Albany Parents and Families,
For several months, educators in our school district have researched, analyzed, discussed, and sought input from staff, parents, and community members to determine how we may maximize our existing resources to increase academic achievement and developmental outcomes for our students. As a result of our work, at our last Board meeting, I confirmed that beginning with the 2017-18 school year in August, we will reconfigure grade-levels in our existing school facilities as follows:
In addition to maximizing the use of our existing school facilities, this reconfiguration provides the opportunity for us to increase instructional time for K-8 students by creating new school day start and end times while also continuing to maximize our school bus fleet. You may recall that two years ago a committee (students, parents/guardians, teachers, staff, and administrators) worked extensively to analyze research related to adolescent development and sleep while exploring options for use of the reduced bus fleet. Extensive research has clearly demonstrated that young children are alert and ready to learn early in the day while adolescents learn better with a later start to their school day. As a result of their work and the budget reductions enacted, the school day start and end times were changed effective with the 2015-16 school year. It was understood and publicly discussed at that time that the changes enacted required further review within three years based upon enrollment and responsible use of district finances.
Our reconfiguration study included an analysis of the committee work two years ago to affirm that school day start and end times must change to allow us to increase daily instructional time for students in Grades K-8 and to maximize the use of existing staff and transportation resources to meet the needs of all students.
As anticipated two years ago, it is now necessary to create new school day start and end times that permit us to transport students eligible for transportation via three student groupings (K-3, 4-6, and 7-12) rather than the two groupings (K-5 and 6-12) today to prevent the need to purchase additional buses and hire more bus drivers.
Changing school day start and end times will permit us to safely transport all students in grades K-6 and students living greater than 2 miles from school in grades 7-12 without purchasing eight or more buses to maintain two student groupings for transportation like today.
The following requirements and considerations were used to create new school day start and end time options for next school year:
Teacher contractual 7.5 hour work day shall start no earlier than 7:00 a.m. and end by4:00 p.m.
Maintain or increase length of student day and instructional time
Schedules must continue to allow students access to accelerated courses/content
Efficient sharing of staff members between school buildings to meet student needs
Sustain 30 or more minutes of teacher collaboration time before/after school
Start times must be at least 40 minutes apart for each student grouping (K-3, 4-6, 7-12) to permit responsible use of existing bus fleet
Kindergarten start and end times must be 10 minutes different than Grades 1-3 to allow for students enrolled in Grades K-3 to ride buses together
Sustain the same number of in-town bus routes to transport all students in grades K-6 and students in grades 7-12 living greater than 2 miles from school
Equalize increases in instructional time for K-8 students
Research supports later start time for middle and high school students and earlier start time for elementary aged students
Set times that maximize daylight
Child care impact for families
Survey feedback received during committee work two years ago
Given these requirements and considerations, the following school day start and end time options exist for the 2017-18 school year:
I invite you to complete a short survey by noon on Friday, January 20, 2017 to share which start and end time option may best meet the needs of your student(s) and family. School day start and end times must be established to permit us to answer many questions (academic day, teacher work day, specials/electives, staffing, structures, and more) to benefit our students.
Although I know it is impossible to implement school day start and end times that will please everyone, I will incorporate all the input received from staff, parents, and students into my decision making process. I will announce the school day start and end time option selected during our State of the Schools Address on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the Jeanne B. McCoy Performing Arts Center. We will continue to share additional information and answer questions for each new school configuration thereafter too.
Thank you for your continued support as we create a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student.
Michael L. Sawyers
*Update December 9, 2016
As you may know from prior District communications or Board of Education presentations and discussions, members of our Leadership Team have been actively researching and analyzing professional articles, case studies, and data to determine how PK-8 grade level reconfiguration may maximize academic achievement and developmental outcomes for students. In an effort to ensure accurate information is available, I am providing you with this comprehensive update on our progress to date and am inviting you to share your input through a brief survey. For your convenience, the survey link is available at the conclusion of this update.
Why is a PK-8 reconfiguration study being conducted?
It is our responsibility as a school district to efficiently and effectively utilize existing district resources and physical space to meet the academic and developmental needs of our students. Our unique campus has capacity to serve 5,500 students within existing school buildings. While we have approximately 4,850 students enrolled in our schools today, we are experiencing physical space limitations for select grade-levels due to our current grade-level configurations in the K-1 Elementary and Middle School.
What is the purpose of the PK-8 reconfiguration study?
Although our families continue to express a desire to enroll their children in an all-day tuition based kindergarten program, we do not have the physical space to expand such programming at the K-1 Elementary School within our current grade level configuration. Additionally, families have expressed the desire to continue to expand early learning opportunities for tuition-based preschool education beyond the current program required by the state for students with special needs, which is currently housed at the 2-5 Elementary School based upon available classroom space. Finally, our Middle School building does not have sufficient space to accommodate grades 6-8 with our current enrollment. Over 250 middle school students are housed at the 2-8 learning facility and travel to and from the middle school as necessary to meet their specific academic needs.
What have we learned from our research?
- While the empirical research is inconclusive overall, we confirmed that:
- Evidence exists to illustrate that more early childhood learning opportunities increase overall student achievement, growth, and well-being.
- A body of research supports grade 6 students at the elementary level to increase student achievement and overall self-esteem.
- Minimizing the number of transitions for students is beneficial and helps create a positive school culture over time.
- Other high achieving Ohio school districts have a wide variety of grade configurations.
- The physical building location does not determine the level of student achievement, growth, or development.
- What do our educators believe?
- Since the research on grade-level configurations is inconclusive, educators in our school district affirmed the following beliefs to ground our work during this PK-8 reconfiguration study:
- The physical building location does not determine the level of student achievement, growth, or development - our teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and students do!
- All students and teachers in the same grade level should be in the same building.
- All students should experience all locations on our unique school campus.
- Having the same grade bands in multiple schools is not optimal for all stakeholders.
- Given the large size of our schools, organizing students into smaller groups within the school benefits students academically and developmentally.
- All students should have access to “specials” options that are developmentally appropriate.
- A more focused approach for support services is available within a smaller grade band configuration.
- Research demonstrates the academic and social-emotional benefits of 6th grade in an intermediate elementary school configuration.
- Expanding the early learning continuum allows for direct alignment of increased academic outcomes for our students with desired services for our parents and community.
- Any reconfiguration should be one that can be implemented over an extended period of time without needing additional changes in a year or two.
What grade-level reconfigurations are possible beginning August, 2017?
Given our commitment to excellence and our focus on the academic and developmental needs of students, educators in our school district have determined that the following PK-8 grade-level reconfigurations will achieve the greatest benefit for our students and families:
OPTION 1 A:
OPTION 1 B:
PK-K (in current K-1 Elementary Building)
PK-K (in current K-1 Elementary Building)
PRIMARY (Grades 1-3 in current 2-5 Elementary Building)
PRIMARY (Grades 1-3 in 2-8 Learning Facility)
INTERMEDIATE (Grades 4-6 in current 2-8 Learning Facility)
INTERMEDIATE (Grades 4-6 in current 2-5 Elementary Building)
MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 7-8 in current Middle School Building)
MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 7-8 in current Middle School Building)
How will the district finalize which school building will host primary or intermediate grade-levels?
Educators in our school district are continuing our analysis to determine the advantages and disadvantages that the 2-5 Elementary School and the 2-8 Learning Facility may have to support Grades 1-3 or Grades 4-6 respectively. Regardless of the final recommendation, we remain confident that the physical building location does not determine the level of student achievement, growth, or development - our teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and students do!
Will parent/guardian and community focus groups be available to offer input and ask questions about the PK-8 grade-level reconfiguration study?
YES! Parents/guardians are welcome to attend any of the following focus groups to provide input, commentary, or ask questions about the PK-8 grade-level reconfiguration process:
- Opportunity #1: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 1:00-2:30 p.m. @ the Annex
- Opportunity #2: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 4:00-5:30 p.m. @ the Annex
- Opportunity #3: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 6:00-7:30 p.m. @ the Annex
- Opportunity #4: Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 9:30-11:00 a.m. @ the Annex
- Opportunity #5: Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 11:30-1:00 p.m. @ the Annex
- Opportunity #6: Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 4:00-5:30 p.m. @ the Annex
(Note: The Annex building is located at 79 N. High Street in front of the 2-5 Elementary)
Is a PK-8 Reconfiguration Survey available for parents/guardians to offer input, feedback, and questions now?
YES! We invite you to participate in the brief PK-8 Parent/Guardian Survey via:
Please participate by Wednesday, January 4, 2017 to allow us to actively review your input to inform and prepare for our parent/guardian focus group meetings.
When will a final decision be made on the PK-8 grade-level reconfigurations beginning with the 2017-18 school year?
The district will formally announce the final recommendation during the State of the Schools Address on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts and in district communications immediately thereafter.