Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It was only August, but kids started filling the hall at Starpoint Middle School early Thursday.
The groups were incoming sixth-graders, going through an orientation introducing them to their new school. The orientation was led by Starpoint’s WEB Crew, a group of eighth-graders who will help guide the newbies throughout their first year out of the elementary world.
WEB stands for Where Everyone Belongs, a title fitting because the group’s aim is to help the sixth-graders feel at home in the middle school. The assistance of eighth-graders helps because change can be difficult, said eighth-grader Cara Sharkey said.
“It gives them a fun first impression,” she said. “And they’ll know what’s coming.”
If it’s true that the more things change the more they stay the same, then there is nothing new in store for the 2012-13 school year.
For the 13,000 or so students in pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade in Eastern Niagara County, the school year begins this week. Kids in Barker and Starpoint start the year on Tuesday. Lockport, Newfane, Royalton-Hartland, Wilson and DeSales kids start on Thursday.
Three of the biggest changes this year are courtesy of the federal and New York state governments. This will be the first school year every teacher and principal is subject to New York’s Annual Professional and Performance Review program.
Under the APPR, a state mandate that took effect this year, teachers and principals will be evaluated according to negotiated rubrics. During the past year, districts across the state have been required to meet the APPR requirements, which involve negotiating with unions and coming up with a grading rubric and evaluation procedures. Over the summer, teachers from all over met to formulate student learning objectives, or SLOs, which will be used to measure student progress in courses.
There’s also the Dignity for All Students Act, another state-mandated policy that prohibits harassment and discrimination against students on school grounds and requires teachers and staff members undergo training to learn how to recognize and deal with bullying.
Another change will likely cause increases in lunch and breakfast prices. Under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Barack Obama into law on Dec. 13, 2010, schools have to meet new nutrition standards, such as school meals will now have to feature more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Districts also have to go with the lowest responsible bidder for food service providers.
One change in particular won’t happen until the year is over in Lockport. Wednesday will be the final first day of school for Washington Hunt Elementary.
Board of Education members voted in June to close the Rogers Avenue school, citing the financial difficulties of addressing all of the building concerns at Hunt. All 250 kids, not including the ones who move up to fifth-grade at Emmet Belknap, will be attending a new school next fall.
So here is a very small snapshot of the changes in store for 2012-13.
All children in the Lockport City School District will return to school Wednesday, although just the seventh- through 12th-graders have a full day.
Breakfast will cost .75 cents for elementary and intermediate students, while junior high and high school students will pay $1. Lunch will be $1.10 and $1.35 respectively.
As part of a recently voter-approved $18.9 million improvement project, which includes many fixups and repairs to be made throughout district buildings, roof work on Roy B. Kelley Elementary School will be completed by the end of September. The roof will not interfere with the first day of school. Work on the high school pool wall, a separate project, should be completed this month as well.
Barker schools will start on Tuesday. Breakfast costs $1.40 and lunch $1.90.
New this year is the district’s launch of the Academy of Finance, a national program that focuses on college and career readiness. The district has been preparing for the program for the past year.
Newfane kids head back to school on Wednesday.
One of the biggest changes is Pamela Leibring has appointed the elementary school’s new principal. Leibring has been a teacher and administrator in the Newfane Central School District for over 14 years, including the past few years as the assistant principal at Newfane Intermediate and Middle Schools.
She will replace Kathleen Nagle, who retired Aug. 31, after having been the elementary principal since November 1998.
Lunch is $2 for all Newfane students, unless they are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.
Roy-Hart kids will be in classrooms Wednesday. Breakfast is $1 and lunch $1.55.
Like many other schools, Roy-Hart has been improving its response to intervention program at all levels. This year, the middle and high schools will have their own RTI process to monitor student achievement and get help early to those who need it.
The district will also start using Wilson Fundations for kindergarten through third-grade kids. Wilson Fundations is a phonological, phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling program for the general education classroom. A prevention program to help reduce reading and spelling failure, Fundations provides research-based strategies to go along with regular curriculum to meet federal standards and to help children succeed.
Kids in kindergarten through 12th-grade at Starpoint will start on Tuesday.
The district does not have a breakfast program, but lunch will cost $1.85 for kids in kindergarten through sixth-grade, while the kids in seventh- through 12th-grade will pay $2.10.
Wilson students return to school on Wednesday.
Breakfast costs $1.50 and lunch will be $2.
DeSales Catholic School
DeSales students will return to school for a half day Wednesday.
Marketing and Admissions Director Ellen Roth said five new faculty members were joining DeSales this year. Also new, DeSales has added some new classroom space for the early childhood programs.
Roth said there are still have openings for new students in most grade levels. Those interested can give the school a call.FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL • TUESDAY: Barker and Starpoint • WEDNESDAY: Lockport, DeSales, Newfane, Royalton-Hartland and Wilson Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.