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 Frequently Asked Questions

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PostSubject: Frequently Asked Questions   Fri 23 Jan 2009, 5:58 pm

Question: Is this a plan that is set to happen or a proposal for us to talk about?

Answer: This is a proposal that will continue to be discussed over the next few weeks. We are seeking input and answering questions. The superintendent will be holding meetings with staff members, parents and the community in buildings as well as holding an open community forum for this purpose on February 3 at 6:00 p.m. at Central Park Middle School.

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Question: When will a decision be made?

Answer: We will be making a final decision on this proposal in February. It is important to make a decision and, if approved, move forward with the planning for the alterations to the buildings needed to serve the younger, smaller children’s needs. Also, we will need to begin the process of staff development and community building with the affected school communities.

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Question: Why now? Why can't we wait a year or two?


Answer: The circumstances of construction, student population patterns, a long term strategic goal that appears attainable for the first time, parental support, the district's decision to reorganize the transportation routes and bus contracts, and other minor factors seem to make this the "perfect storm" of variable that point to this summer as the right time.

Can we wait? Yes. Can waiting make the transition easier? Maybe. Is there a cost to waiting? Yes, primarily in the area of construction costs. A construction project is slated to begin at Central Park this spring/summer and the needed renovations can be made part of this project. If we wait, a new project will have to be created and the cost will increase.

Other factors including the distribution of students and the current feeder patterns of elementary schools to middle school also weigh in. While the sixth graders now remain in the elementary schools, the middle schools are left with lower enrollments. Central Park would be half full. That is an issue that needs to be addressed as we cannot operate a building that is half full. So, we must also decide now what happens to the feeder patterns next year.


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Question: If Howe moves to Central Park as a K-8 School, will it still be a magnet school ?

Answer: Yes, the magnet theme will remain the same.

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Question: Will there be a magnet lottery for new students to attend King Magnet and Central Park?

Answer: Students who currently attend King and Central Park will stay at their school. Students who currently attend Howe would attend K-8 Central Park There will be a lottery for new students to attend either of the K-8 schools but availability will depend on open slots at each grade level .

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Question: If the proposal is approved and Howe moves to Central Park, can I send my child to a different elementary school?

Answer: Parents of children who attend a magnet school program always have the option to choose to send their child to the neighborhood school that serves their particular address. For example, if you live in the Elmer Avenue Elementary attendance zone but have been sending your child to Howe through the magnet school lottery, you always have the option of transferring your child to Elmer Avenue.

If your child will be going into the seventh or eighth grade and you do not want your child to continue in the K - 8 magnet school, you may choose either Oneida or Mont Pleasant, depending on where you live.

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Question: Will the programming be the same for elementary school students who attend Central Park ?

Answer: The magnet program at Howe would be moved along with the International theme. The district curriculum is the same throughout all elementary schools and grade levels, however the thematic approach in a magnet school does flavor the approach in the school and the classroom as the curriculum is delivered.

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Question: In the K - 8 schools, will elementary students ride on buses with the older students?

Answer: This is an area of some debate and is an area we will certainly explore and discuss with parents. No firm decision has been made, however currently our elementary students ride separate from our middle school students.

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Question: In the K - 8 schools, will older students be separated from elementary school students in school? Would they share bathrooms?

Answer: The details of how a K-8 building is managed are left to the staff and administration of that building. However, we have discussed the need to separate these students of varying ages within the facility using the natural layout of the building to create dedicated sections and bathrooms within the building.

Central Park has had an elementary (self-contained 6th grade) and middle school model in the building for the last two years.

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Question: In the K - 8 schools, would the school hours be the same for all students?

Answer: This is yet another area that we are currently discussing. There is a committee of teachers and administrators being formed to address this and many other aspects of running a new K-8 school.

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Question: In the K - 8 schools, will students in grades 6, 7, 8 change classes?

Answer: Students in grades 7 and 8 will definitely change classes as much as they do now due to the requirement that they be taught by teachers who are certified teachers in the specific subject areas. Students in grades K-6 will be in self-contained classrooms as they are in all elementary schools in the district.

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Question: Will Central Park have elementary library books, technology and resources that are currently available to the elementary students at Howe ? Will King have library books, technology and resources for the older students?

Answer: The simple answer is yes. These materials are purchased and owned primarily by the district and are located where the children and staff need them. These materials do not belong to one teacher, administrator, program or building.

Central Park also has three SMART Boards, all on movable stands and can be shared among classrooms. Central Park also has two computer labs in the technology classroom and four full laptop carts (with 32 computers) and one and a half laptop carts shared among staff.

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Question: We (Howe) are very involved in the Balanced Literacy Program. Mrs. Coffey was the person leading the project and very involved in having the vision and moving it forward. How will this effort continue?

Answer: Balanced Literacy is an approach supported by all building and district administrators.   The principal will collaborate with the district coordinator of reading.  The Balanced Literacy approach will continue.

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Question: Schenectady had K-8 schools at one time that failed. Why do it again?

Answer: There is no evidence that a K-8 model has ever failed in our district. The district committees that studied, researched and formulated the strategic plan beginning in 2003 considered all the factors related to having K-6 and K-8 schools and concluded that these models would produce the best academic and behavioral environments for the children in Schenectady. The overriding commitment has been to provide the K-8 setting as an option for parents to consider.

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Question: If I have a student at King and a middle school student at Central Park, can I move one of my students so they are both in the same school?

Answer: We hope to accommodate all of these requests and certainly will wherever space is available. We will invite former King students who have moved to Central Park to choose to return and finish our 7th and 8th grade at King.

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Question: Will Spanish and Chinese move with the Howe program to Central Park?

Answer: Since these are new programs, it is difficult to evaluate the continued viability. However, we plan to continue offering them to the greatest extent possible to children who have been receiving this instruction. We plan to continue the same curriculum and instructional program already established by the district.

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Question: Would K-8 schools have two PTOs or would they be merged into one?

Answer: This would be determined by the parents, staff and administration of the new K-8 buildings.

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Question: Will class sizes be larger at King and CP?


Answer: Our smaller class size initiative will not be affected by this move. However, the current economic situation may have an effect throughout the district.

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Question: Are the classrooms big enough to house Kindergarten classes as well as classrooms set up for the balanced literacy program requiring rug space, reading area with book shelves, areas to store independent classroom libraries?

Answer: Yes.  The classrooms are very large and some already contain self-contained elementary classes that are set up with rug space, reading areas, classroom libraries etc. Every classroom will have what it needs and will meet New York State Education Department guidelines.

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Question: We have a special class here K-12. Will there be space for the class to move with us?

Answer: All special classes that are part of the program would be scheduled to move with the program.

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Question: As a balanced literacy school Howe needs to have a book room. Where will that be located? 

Answer: This question will be answered by  the administration of the new K-8 program.

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Question: Where will the playground be? Who will decide? Will we have any say in the equipment and where it will be? 

Answer: Central Park has plenty of space to include a playground, which will be planned by the facilities department. Staff and administration will be involved in the design and development of the playground.

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Question: The rock wall is owned by the Howe PTO and will need to bet taken down and put up in the gym. How and when will this be done?

Answer: Since Central Park already has a rock wall, the facilities department and administration would determine whether or not an additional rock wall can/ will be installed.

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Question: Will there be enough small space for our resource, remedial, speech, social work and guidance staff?

Answer: Yes

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Question: We have many parents who visit during the day and most of our walkers are picked up. We are already backed up on Baker and that is with the bus loop. How could this work?  

Answer: Parking is not an issue at Central Park. Many parents currently visit Central Park, drop off and pick up students every day. There is plenty of parking on the streets surrounding the school.

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Question: How will this proposal affect the elementary to middle school feeder system?

Answer: Central Park would become a magnet school therefore elementary schools would no longer feed directly to it.  As a magnet, Central Park would draw students from throughout the city.

Since Paige, Lincoln, King and Woodlawn elementary schools currently feed to Central Park, under this proposal the feeder system would change as follows:

King Magnet School will become a K-8 (2009-2010) therefore all students will remain at King through 8th grade

Paige and Lincoln (K-6) will feed to Oneida Middle School (grades seven and eight)

Woodlawn (K-6) will feed to Mont Pleasant Middle School (grades six through eight)

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Question: Why propose eliminated 6th grade at Oneida? Both Mont Pleasant and CP would have 6th grade.

Answer: All of the “feeder” schools into Oneida are able to house their sixth grade students. There will not be any sixth grade students available for this building as the district approaches its objective of K-6 and K-8 schools. Oneida and eventually Mont Pleasant will be 7 - 8 middle schools.

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Question: Will other schools be changing to K -8 as well?

Answer: The district has plans for only two K-8 schools. However, as the district’s enrollment continues to climb (increasing nearly three thousand students over the last twenty years) we may explore the development of other new schools and they will reflect either a K-6 or K-8 model depending on the needs of the district.

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You can view changes for 2009-2010 and the proposal under consideration here: http://www.schenectady.k12.ny.us/K-8_Proposal/Outline_of_Proposal.htm[
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