Change coming to Normandy schools
In a recent public forum, leadership of the Normandy Schools Collaborative discussed new district initiatives that involve realigned schools and boundaries
By Charlotte Beard
Continually building on its Normandy Pillars (Accountability, Collaboration, Professionalism, Trust and Respect), Normandy Schools Collaborative (NSC) hosted an evening Viking Vision Engagement Series discussion on April 2 which was hosted by Dr. Charles J. Pearson, Superintendent of Schools with assistance from Dr. Phil Pusateri, Assistant Superintendent-Operations & CFO.
The discussion was open to the public at Lucas Crossing Elementary School and included district initiatives: 1) the new “elemiddle” model, 2) realigned school attendance boundaries, 3) new school start and dismissal times, and 4) anti-bullying efforts. Handout information was also provided to attendees with referral to the district’s website for more details.
The “elemiddle” model will be implemented in fall 2019. This new model for the district allots for grades 1-6 to be reconfigured to consist of grades 1-8. This plan was previously introduced to the community and NSC Leadership came prepared with Q&A based on questions previously received from parents and community members.
The decision to implement the change came after leadership conducted a study of its student performance data. NSC consistently found that academic success was hindered upon reaching the middle school years. As a result, NSC investigated alternative school configurations that would meet both the academic and social needs of its students.
The community engagement sessions that took place prior to the “elemiddle” decision did yield concerns about pre-teens and teenagers being in the same school with younger children. That concern has been addressed with a school configuration that will keep the older and younger students separated. The community is encouraged to check the district’s website for further details.
Due to the passing of Proposition N in 2017 which provided $23 million to improve the learning environments, the district will have the space for seventh and eighth graders to return to the elementary schools. In addition to facility add-ons for two of the elementary schools, Normandy Kindergarten Center (formerly Bel-Nor Elementary) will receive classroom upgrades to reconfigure it to the ‘elemiddle’ model. The kindergarten and pre-school students will attend the new Early Learning Center scheduled to open in the fall.
The new model does call for a realignment of where students will attend school.
NSC leadership states, “Because there will no longer be a 7th-8th Grade Center, we are going to return to a true neighborhood school concept where students in grades 1-8 will attend the school closest to their homes. The Joint Executive Governing Board approved the realigned school attendance boundaries which will determine if students (grades 1-6), based on their current residence, will stay at their current schools and which students will need to transfer to the school closest to their home. This process will also determine which current seventh graders will go to which elementary/EleMiddle school. The realignment of attendance boundaries will also determine who will attend Bel-Nor, which will also be a grade 1-8 school beginning fall 2019. Information regarding school assignments will be shared with families in early 2019.”
With the realignment changes also comes new start and dismissal times for all NSC students in fall 2019. The five EleMiddle schools (Bel-Nor, Jefferson, Lucas Crossing, Obama, and Washington) will start school at 7:45 a.m. and be dismissed at 2:52 p.m. The Early Learning Center will have two separate start and dismissal times. Pre-school/pre-K students will attend school 8:15 a.m. to 3:22 p.m. and the kindergarten students will be on the same schedule as the high school and the Center for Academics and Social Advancement (CASA) attending 8:45 a.m. to 3:52 p.m.
Previous concerns for older students riding the bus with younger students have been addressed.
NSC leadership states, “To encourage positive student behavior choices while on the bus, we are working with our staff to enhance training for bus drivers in behavior management, and de-escalation, possibly hiring additional bus monitors for 2019-2020, and planning start-of-year overview sessions for students on bus behavior, etiquette, and expectations.”
Pearson also shared that parents can expect letters in July about the details of bus stop locations for the school(s) their child(ren) will attend.
The evening’s engagement series ended with open and group discussions on best practices for bullying prevention in the district.
Pearson stated that the district does not have huge issues with bullying occurrences; however, he expressed that an “issue for one child is enough to be a huge issue.”
For one of the exercises, attendees were encouraged to leave NSC leadership with their personal best practices for establishing parental accountability in the home. NSC plans to compile the feedback to utilize with the district’s current prevention initiatives.
For a complete Q&A and other information on the grade 1-8 configuration, visit the Grade 1-8 EleMiddle page under Academics & Student Support Services on the website www.normandysc.org.
CUTLINES: Photos courtesy Normandy Schools Collaborative
Cover-School1 Normandy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Pearson (standing) answers a question from parent Gregory Robinson at the recent Viking Vision Community Engagement meeting. Parents, community members and staff had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming changes to the district as well as ideas to stem bullying in the schools.
Cover-School2 Normandy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Pearson (standing) answers a question from parent Gregory Robinson at the recent Viking Vision Community Engagement meeting. Parents, community members and staff had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming changes to the district as well as ideas to stem bullying in the schools.
Cover-School3 Normandy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Pearson (standing) takes a question from parent Alexandra Kayser during Tuesday’s Viking Vision Community Engagement meeting. Parents, community members and staff had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming changes to the district as well as ideas to stem bullying in the schools.