Boone replaces boilers; presents new realignment plan

The Daniel Boone School Board unanimously approved April 14 to purchase two new boilers for Birdsboro Elementary Center from Trane through The Cooperative Purchasing Network, at a cost not to exceed $390,000.

Funds will be taken from the districts Capital Reserve Fund. Board member Suzanne Dungan was absent from the meeting.

The boilers will keep the BEC building operational -- until the balance of the heating system must be replaced within the next five years.

Prior to the boiler vote, Superintendent Marybeth Torchia presented a new elementary school realignment plan for BEC and Monocacy Elementary Center.

Her recommendation is for MEC to be a kindergarten through second grade school, and for BEC to be a third through fifth grade school.

Students that attend Amity Elementary Center would be unaffected by the realignment.

The revised plan was met with applause from the audience of about 25 people and will be voted upon at the boards April 28 voting meeting.

Torchia said her intention behind her first, three-building realignment plan was to keep BEC open by equalizing the student populations between MEC, BEC, and the Amity Elementary Center.

It involved all of the districts kindergarten and first grade students attending MEC, all second and third graders attending BEC, and all fourth and fifth graders attending AEC.

I didnt want to see kids not sitting in real classrooms [modular units], said Torchia, and I was trying to think of a way that we could keep Birdsboro open.

That (realignment plan) wasnt on the positive side for parents, said Torchia.She was referring to the parents who filled the Daniel Boone Middle School auditorium at the March 24 board meeting, many of whom were angry that their children would be in three different schools.

It (that plan) was not optimum because of a 50 percent transition each year. And, because of the emotion in the room that night, whatever I presented wouldnt have been taken to heart.

Were now just looking at Monocacy and Birdsboro -- to combine those to optimize the teachers at each grade level. We have that at AEC. This is motivated truly by education -- there are no savings to the district. There would be increased fuel costs of about $5,000, but no additional bus.

She said the pros of the realignment are that MEC would be a Title I school with all the Title I funding used at one school, not split between BEC, and MEC would have two, full-time reading specialists (one of three taken from the Daniel Boone Middle School), which will be paid from the Title I funding.

In addition, Torchia said the K-2 and 3-5 educational resources can now be combined at one school, there will be increased enrichment for advanced learners, more core instruction time for average learners, and the ability to spread out math instruction between six teachers.

Were trying to reach out to our youngest learners and stack up the resources. MEC would be my Title I target. It would also be a collaborative effort for teachers with fewer students in a classroom who have an IEP. The special education teachers love it as they will now wok with a two grade spread.

She said the cons are that MEC students would be farther away from their neighborhood school, the need to establish new relationships with a nurse, guidance counselor and a principal, siblings would be in a separate building, the new need to transition form second to third grade, and possibly a longer bus ride.

It becomes a professional learning community, said Torchia. More people to collaborate with on a daily basis. Grade level meetings would include AEC, BEC, MEC. There would be a stronger focus on early childhood development at the K-2 building, and right now were not getting that.

Instead of micromanaging instruction -- this is a collaborative and collective responsibility for education -- and were looking at data to drive our instruction in the classroom, said Torchia.

We wouldnt be able to specialize if the buildings remain as they are. There is no increase to the budget, were just increasing resources.

Torchia said MEC would also have enough classroom space for an at-risk kindergarten classroom that could be implemented for 2014-15.

She said there is also room at MEC for a day care, a pre-K program, full day kindergarten, and room at MEC and BEC for growth in enrollment.

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