Budget cuts and tough financial decisions have been affecting school districts state wide and the Watkins Glen School District is no different. Plans to eventually close the district middle school are underway and as our Bill Mich tells us, that means changes for students and teachers in the upcoming school year.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The hallways are quiet and classrooms are empty, but in a little over a week, students will return to the Watkins Glen School District with some changes waiting for them. This year is the first phase of closing the middle school.
"Phase one is moving fifth grade. Phase two will be sixth grade next year and then phase three will be closing the middle school and moving to a single campus," said Superintendent Tom Phillips.
But fifth grade moving out of the middle school to the elementary school is not all. There will only be a single bus run this year with every grade level being picked up at once, rather than two runs in previous years. That means start times will be different as well. Elementary school and high school with start at 8:05 a.m. and middle school at 8:10 a.m.
"The data says the later start time the more successful sometimes they can be. So I think that's a positive change. I think the kids will like that but it will be a change they'll have to get used to," said Watkins Glen High School Principal David Warren.
And a change everyone will need to get used to is less staff. Budget cuts saw a reduction of 15 staff members. That means larger class sizes and more responsibility for teachers to deliver programs effectively.
"We'll be missing our colleagues dreadfully, at the same time, we keep our eyes on the prize which is providing incredible education for the kids that come our way and the collaboration in this school is always incredible," said history teacher Marie Fitzsimmons.
The plan is to have all students on the 12th Street campus by 2014 and close the middle school, which will save the district anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000 annually.