BY MICHELLE MILLER

STAFF WRITER

It’s that time again. Next week students will be heading back to school and will have to adjust to the transition from August to September, which means adjusting to  greater levels of activity, structureand new faces.

Cooperstown Central School had nine retirements last year, and will introduce four newcomers this school year. Kyle Van Vlack has been hired as a middle/high school academic intervention services teacher, Danielle Rhone will teach eighth grade science and one section of high school science, a part-time art teacher will be shared through BOCES with Morris Central School and Patricia Hogan will serve as the Committee of Special Education secretary. Although Peter Henrici has retired and Latin was on the chopping block during budget decision time, he has agreed to come back to the district to continue to teach the language.

New courses this year will include college algebra through SUNY Delhi and video production.

CCS Superintendent C.J. Hebert said he is looking forward to the return of students and staff. Hebert said the district is expecting about 930 students for the 2011-12 school year, which is down about 40 students compared to last year.

Elementary School Principal Teresa Gorman said kindergarten enrollment fluctuates year to year. She said she is anticipating 58 kindergarteners, which is down from last year. She said there will only be three sections of kindergarteners instead of four. She said the second grade will only have three sections this year as well. The rest of the grades will have four sections.

Gorman said she is happy to have the sixth graders stay in the elementary school this year. “It is always hard to see them go and move on,” Gorman said.

The district decided to move the sixth grade from the middle school wing, which included grades six through eight at the high school, based on declining enrollment trends, according to Hebert.

“We have seen increasing space availability at the elementary school,” Hebert said.

Part of the reason why the decision was made, according to Hebert, was because there is a teacher at the middle/high school level who does not have a classroom and works off a cart and so there will be space for the 15-1-1 Special Education students. He said there is not any space currently in the high school to institute that program. “It will group teachers with  similar certification levels orcertification areas,” Hebert said.

“With the enrollment decline that we have experienced at the elementary school over the past decade or so, we have also seen a result in having excess capability or capacity in our special areas teachers; our physical education, our art teachers.”

If the sixth grade were to remain in the middle/ high school building, Hebert said there would be a need for some teachers to move back and forth between the elementary and the secondary buildings to provide instruction such as art, physical education and perhaps other areas of instruction.

Each year, students and teachers at the elementary school have adopted a special  theme that is used as a focal point for much of what is done throughout the year.

This year’s theme will be ``Fill the Bucket.” Gorman said it is based on the Bucket Filler Character Development Program that highlights children’s self-esteem, character and citizenship. Gorman said the program addresses respect for one self and for others and instills academic- and selfresponsibilities.

According to Gorman, the program takes a unique approach in trying to teach students about bullying- to have students fill the bucket with positive things about one another never any negatives.

Gorman, who will be going into her 12th year at CCS, said she looks forward to the beginning of the school year.

“I enjoy their (the students) positive attitudes and the energy they bring to the opening of school,” she said. “They are like canvases, just ready to create good habits.”

Hebert said there is a lot to look forward to in the coming school year. He said inquiry teams have been workingon implementation of new common course standards in English language art and math.

Hebert said every district will be facing the challenge of implementing annual professional performance review regulations. He said there have already been some preliminary meetings and discussions to come up with a district-wide plan.

“It will certainly be a significant change in how we have done teacher and principal evaluations in the past, and we are going to have to work diligently and closely with both bargaining groups to insure that we have something that is practicable and yet effective,” Hebert said.

Hebert said he anticipates the building project to be 99 percent complete by opening day. He said ventilators  have been installed in themiddle/high school, which will provide air circulation and improved air quality, and the locker rooms were also reconstructed.

“There was a lot of infrastructure construction done this year. It was not as big or apparent as things done last year such as the reconstruction of the science rooms,” Hebert said.

The district website has taken on a new look and now supports mobile devices.

“For me it is a lot more intuitive to navigate,” Hebert said.

According to Hebert, the goal is to highlight student achievement, class activities and initiatives of the district.

He said he is going to ask the staff to submit pictures for the site during the first superintendent’s conference day.

Hebert said there are so many projects and activities that happen that the community should be aware of.

“We hope to keep the website more updated than we have in the past,” he said.

Hebert said when practical, the district likes to havestudents attend their home district. He said this is why the CCS is starting a 15-1-1 special education program.

The program will provide for up to 15 students who have learning difficulties. Most have been in BOCES placements and will no longer have to travel to get an education, Hebert said. The program will be headed by Katie Lambert and she will have help of a teaching assistant, according to Hebert.

Bus routes will remain essentially the same as last year.

Parents with questions should contact Terry Bunn, head bus driver, at 547-8331. Full paid breakfast prices for the 2011- 12 year will be $1.10; full paid lunch prices will be $1.80 for grades kindergarten through six and $1.90 for grades seven through 12.

The school board approved a $10,504,608 tax levy, which is a 1.41 percent increase from the 2010-11 school year.

The middle/high school open house will be held Sept. 8 and the elementary open house will be held Sept. 22. Both will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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