Editor's Note: Parents, we want your feedback on these changes. Comment in the section below or pass along the link to those you know in the community.
Middletown Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Charles outlined a number of primary school initiatives in a district-wide automated phone call to parents on Tuesday.
Likely the change that will most affect parents at Middletown's eight elementary schools is 18 two-hour-early Monday dismissal days to allow for teachers' professional development.
Last year, there were six early dismissal days leaving two hours and 20 minutes early, or 15 professional development hours. This year, 18 days dismissing at 1:15 p.m. translates to 39 professional development hours.
That leaves parents who work full-time during the day scrambling for after-school care.
Charles says the days are needed "professional development, collaborative planning, and data team analysis in order to meet the requirements of our Alliance grant and to integrate the new Common Core state standards and new teacher evaluation plan."
She acknowledges additional early dismissal days are difficult for working families. "To help with this, we collaborate with the YMCA, which offers after-school programming at each of our elementary schools. Financial assistance is available for qualifying individuals and families."
Middle and high school students will have six late arrival days: grades six to eight at 10:30 a.m. and nine to 12 at 10 a.m.
PDEs for kindergartners through grade five are: Sept. 9 and 23, Oct. 7 and 21, Nov. 4 and 18, Dec. 2 and 16, Jan. 6 and 27, Feb. 10 and 24, March 10 and 24, April 7 and 21, May 5 and 19.
In addition, primary school classes city wide will begin 15 minutes earlier, at 8:50 a.m. Adult supervision and access to the schools will be at 8:45 a.m. and a student will be marked tardy if he/she arrives after 8:55 a.m., according to Charles.
New this fall is the option for children in kindergarten to grade five to receive breakfast in the classroom. Beginning on Sept. 3, Macdonough, Bielefield, Wesley, Lawrence and Farm Hill schools can participate, receiving milk, fruit options and breakfast entree, according to Charles, for a $1 fee. Those on reduced lunches will be charged $.30. Snow and Moody schools will begin on Nov. 4 with Spencer in January.
Reading will take center stage at the elementary level as classes resume, Charles says, with the addition of library media specialists. "Our schools have been without this critical position for years. The library should be the hub of our schools. We are working to restore that important connection within our current budget constraints."
This year, MPS will add six part-time librarians through the Alliance Grant, Charles adds. "We hired one library media specialist last year. We hope to add to those part-time positions in the future to restore the important role library plays in acquiring literacy and technology skills at the schools," she explains.
More police presence in Middletown Schools could be on the horizon as the common council earlier this week voted to send the request for $200,000 for two more resources officers back to the public safety committee. If approved at the September meeting, the funds would pay for two officers at each of the eight elementary schools on a rotating basis, and for police posted at each school during its busiest morning and afternoon times.
Already, Middletown High has two SREs and Woodrow Wilson and Keigwin middle school one SRE each.
Last December, after the Sandy Hook shootings, the superintendent and mayor announced additional plans to increase security at each of the city's schools, saying some changes would be visible and some not.
Have a news tip or story idea for Middletown Patch? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.