With several grades moving around the next year, school administrators announced some additional changes they feel will expand and enhance the courses and programs offered to students.
“The reorganization and the reconfiguration has given us the opportunity to add some program to the school district,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said in a presentation at the board of education meeting Wednesday night at the Willis Avenue school. “Everything we run this year will be running again next year.”
All current district programs would continue as well as all educational and co-curricular activities, extra curricular activities, athletic programs. The district will also continue to replace technology equipment more than 5 years old and plans on expanding the to the .
Nagler noted an additional unfunded mandate from the state requiring all administrators to be trained collectively “on how they observe teachers” across the state “and you have to prove how they were trained and its typically you have to bring somebody into do it.”
Perhaps the most ambitious program change is the addition of a world language program on the elementary level. “We’re trying in a global society to have our children speak two languages,” Dr. Nagler said. “I think very few people would argue that children learn languages best when they’re young and immersed in it.”
While the superintendent did not have details on the program yet, he did indicate Spanish would be the language and that teachers will be conducting research into neighboring districts on how best to implement the program in Mineola. The new program would increase staff over time for the world language department.
“If we want to do it right, it has to continue from our early grades right through our high school,” Dr. Nagler said.
Third graders would also begin to learn keyboarding since “the youngest of children are working with computers, it’s important that they know how to type correctly,” Dr. Nagler said. “Especially the texters with their thumbs. It’s a skill that will only benefit them as they get older.”
As part of their , eighth graders will now be getting a double period of algebra. “We’re going to realize some potential with our coursework there,” Nagler said.
Algebra is typically started in the ninth grade, bu in order to get to calculus B/C students had to start algebra in the eighth grade. “There as no other way to do it,” the superintendent said. “This way we’re exposing a lot more children to the math and opening the door for a lot more to advance as they go through the grades.”
The move would not mean that every eighth grade student would have to take the Regents exam. “If they’re not ready for it, they’re still exposed to the material and they can take it again the following year,” Dr. Nagler said.
Another move on the high school level is to move earth science to ninth grade and living environment to tenth, basically switching the two offerings’ respective grade levels.
“The way the state curriculum is set up, eighth grade is a physical science, so it flows better into earth science in the ninth grade and living environment in the tenth grade followed by chemistry in the eleventh grade,” Dr. Nagler explained. One benefit is that AP science offerings would be expanded to offer all four AP sciences: Chemistry, Environmental Science, Biology and Physics.
Mineola will continue to spend an $500,000 in facilities upgrades in 2011-12, including a new varsity girls softball field at the in the “cow pasture.” The district will also convert the high school tennis courts into a parking lot for additional parking for students and staff. The new space will net an additional 47 spaces as parallel parking spaces in front of the school will be removed in order to make way for a dedicated bus lane. “The spots that we lose will be recouped with the conversion of the tennis courts,” Nagler said.
Upgrades will also be made to the gym, new cardiovascular equipment for high school fitness center, continuing the musical instrument replacement program and adding equipment for the science research program. “Some of the more technical science things that colleges would typically have we need to start purchasing now as we expand that program,” Dr. Nagler said.
The district also leans to expand the library at , which would be in the tax levy. The construction of the at would not be part of the levy and are being .
The expansion of current library at Meadow would be in the rear of the building on top of what is now an asphalt patio. A double door exit in the back of the space would remain, and the computer bank would be moved to the other side of the room. A reading area would be added as part of an off-angled corner with large glass windows for natural lighting.
First graders at Meadow Drive and Hampton will be the first to try out a new class schedule in the fall.
“We’re going to test it next year, see how it works, and then either modify it or expand it for the kindergarten and the second (grade) as they move into those buildings,” Nagler said, explaining that the focus was to minimize classroom pullouts and give a rotation of “specials” around lunch.
“It’s just really putting an emphasis on ‘classroom time is classroom time’ there should be minimal distractions and minimal pullouts.” Dr. Nagler said.
One time block before lunch across all days is designated for “intervention/ acceleration” instruction for English as a Second Language (ESL) students or those in need of extra help or those who are advanced in their coursework.
The schedule has physical education four times a week, one double period of art per week, one period once a week for the world language immersion, recess on two days, and music once a week for two separate periods on Wednesdays, he later class being when all the classes meet collectively.
“This is actually adding to the music program because right now they meet once a week by class, now we’re adding an additional time where all of the children on the grade meet with the teacher,” Nagler said. “The concept there is practice for rehearsals for some kind of performance.”
The schedule allows the library and computer lab to be kept open during recess in case of inclimate weather.