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Mineola District Superintendent Discusses Grade Transitions

Bus Routes ‘Pretty Much Finalized’

Mineola School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler began working on transition plans for the various grades after the defeat of the last bond, he revealed at a recent budget presentation.

His research yielded a plan that he decided to tweak because, “I was not happy about the third grade and how they were moving,” he said, mentioning the first grade at Cross Street School because they would have moved four times in four years.

“This plan slows down the process a little bit,” Nagler said. “It addresses some of the parents’ concerns I had, particularly the third grade remaining where they currently are.”

The plan sets up for all students in Willis Avenue to enter either the Hampton Street School (south) or Meadow Drive School (north) in 2011-2012, which is roughly five classes in each building, according to Nagler. Current first and third grade children in Meadow will stay and be joined next year by Cross’ current third grade when they become second and fourth graders respectively.

Concerning Hampton, the current first grade will remain as second graders next year, as well as the third grade when they become fourth graders.

“It sets them up for one transition into the final configuration,” Nagler said. “Second grade would leave anyway for third and fourth would leave for five, six, seven. So it’s a smoother transition.”

All current second-graders would go to Jackson Avenue School next year for the third grade. This sets them up for two years in Jackson before moving on to the middle school. The second grade at Cross Street would go to Jackson Avenue as well.

All fifth-graders would move to the middle school, or an “intermediate” or “upper level middle school,” which was coined by Nagler and the eighth grade would move to high school.

A name has not been finalized for the middle school yet. Nagler said he would like further discussion and input before he makes a recommendation.

Nagler suggested a discussion to be held between parents and the community, as the district might want to, “move away from the term middle school as in the new configuration, it’s more an intermediate school than a middle school. It’s not running on a nine period day. It’s going to have a completely different structure more akin to what you’re used to in an elementary building.”

The superintendent said it would be a “hybrid” of sorts because with the seventh grade, the district is required to departmentalize and is required by certification to teach subjects. “That building would see the greatest change of all the buildings in its look, feel and culture,” he said. “We’re working to give it a feel of an intermediate…a changeover from an elementary into a high school setting.”

The only grade with one transition is the current third grade at Cross Street, which would go to Meadow Drive for one year then the middle school.

“The benefits of this (is) Willis Avenue remains the same so we’re not moving teachers in Willis Avenue next year,” Nagler said. “When we close the building the following year is when we’ll move those teachers. We’re not moving second grade teachers into Jackson [Avenue] only to move them out again the following year. The teacher transition will be a lot smoother.”

Nagler stated the second grade teachers that remain at Jackson Avenue would then go into the Pre-K-2 (Meadow Drive/ Hampton Street) schools.

“The enormity of moving the fifth grade and the eighth grade is enough to keep us busy that we really don’t have to move too many children at one time. In this scenario, the current second grade, third, fourth and fifth grade would move, and seventh and eighth grade would move.”

In terms of school start/end times, Dr. Nagler said they and the bus routes were pretty much finalized but he is obligated to consult with the teachers’ unions on start times as it is in their contracts. The high school and middle school will not be changing start times.

Starting next school year, Meadow Drive will see an opening time of 8:12 a.m. and a 2:49 p.m. end to the school day. Hampton Street will open and end at the same time as Meadow Drive.

The Jackson Avenue School will open at 8:43 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. Willis Avenue will open at 9:09 a.m. and close at 3:16 p.m.