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South Hills

West Jefferson board approves elementary reconfiguration

| Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

West Jefferson Hills School District board members on Jan. 23, in a 9-0 vote, approved a plan that will turn McClellan and Gill Hall elementary schools into kindergarten-through-second-grade-only buildings. All third through fifth graders will then attend Jefferson Elementary.

Currently, kindergarten through fifth graders attend all three elementary schools.

First, a line will be drawn. That will determine which students go to McClellan and which go to Gill Hall for kindergarten to second grade starting the 2018-19 school year.

“A major piece is determining where the attendance boundaries are,” said Matthew Patterson, assistant superintendent of elementary education.

Board members, also in a 9-0 vote on Jan. 23, approved a proposal from Cropper GIS Consulting, LLC, at a cost not to exceed $14,000, to draw the boundary line.

The line will be drawn by March 1, according to terms of the contract, Patterson said. And it's important that the line is right the first time, he said.

“We want to get it right,” Patterson said.

District leaders then will go street-by-street and school-by-school to determine which student attends which kindergarten to second grade building next year.

They're planning ice cream socials and movie nights in the next few months to prepare some of the district's youngest students for a new school by next year. All of that will occur while schedules are being made and bus routes determined, Patterson said.

“The real goal is before the summer for the kids to know who their teacher is, have visited the school, met their teacher and met their classmates,” he said.

Patterson did not have a timeframe for when parents will be notified regarding which school their child will be attending.

As part of the district's elementary reconfiguration plan, West Jefferson Hills will launch full-day kindergarten in 2018-19.

A community forum for parents of incoming kindergarteners is planned for Feb. 6 to explain the process.

District leaders are working with kindergarten teachers and local daycare centers to formulate a curriculum for the all-day program, which Patterson said will not just focus on academics.

The program will have a personalized approach and target social and emotional development.

Patterson has been visiting kindergarten classrooms to read to students and get their thoughts, as well.

Parents will be asked to select full-day kindergarten or opt-out during kindergarten registration, which will take place at all three elementary schools on from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 15.

The district will eliminate the mid-day bus run for the 2018-19 school year.

Any parent who selects to opt out of full-day kindergarten will be required to provide transportation for their child mid-day.

District leaders said they have not determined if the half-day program will run in the morning or afternoon.

Students are eligible to attend kindergarten if they are 5 years of age on or before Sept. 1 of the school year.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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