Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 01 April 2011 00:00
With all the hoopla that will be occurring next year (Cross Street closing, fifth and eighth grade moving) the Mineola School District Superintendent Michael Nagler announced some “wrinkles” they feel will expand and enhance the courses and programs offered to students.
All current district programs would continue as well as all educational and co-curricular activities, extra curricular activities and athletic programs. The district will also continue to replace technology equipment more than five years old and plans on expanding the iPad pilot program to the entire sixth grade and “select” fifth and seventh grade classrooms.
“The reorganization and the reconfiguration has given us the opportunity to add some programs to the school district,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said in a presentation at the board of education meeting on March 16 at the Willis Avenue School. “Everything we run this year will be running again next year.”
Perhaps the most noticeable change is the addition of a world language program on the elementary level. Nagler met with now world language teachers who felt it should not be called foreign language anymore.
“We’re trying in a global society to have our children speak two languages,” Nagler said. “I think very few people would argue that children learn languages best when they’re young and they are immersed in it.”
Nagler did not have details on the program, but indicated 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,” Nagler said. “Especially the “texters” with their thumbs. It’s a skill that will only benefit them as they get older.”
Eighth graders will be starting Algebra next year with a double period. Algebra is typically started in the ninth grade, but in order to get to Calculus B/C students had to start as eighth graders in Algebra in the middle school, according to Nagler.
“There was no other way to do it,” he 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.”
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 10th grade followed by chemistry in the eleventh grade,” Nagler stated. One benefit is that AP science offerings would be expanded to offer all four AP sciences with Chemistry, Environmental Science, Biology and Physics.”
Mineola will spend $500,000 in facilities upgrades next school year, including a new varsity girls softball field at the high school 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 Cross Street School 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 would like to expand the library at Meadow Drive, which would be in the tax levy. The construction of the new library, music and art rooms at Hampton Street would not be part of the levy and are being paid out of undesignated fund balance.
The expansion of the current library at Meadow Drive 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.
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, the 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.”