Big Walnut school board members unanimously approved the hiring of a principal for Harrison Street Elementary School, which opens in the fall.

Big Walnut school board members unanimously approved the hiring of a principal for Harrison Street Elementary School, which opens in the fall.

Kim Castiglione will be the school's principal. Castiglione currently is a literacy facilitator at General Rosecrans Elementary School and is a licensed psychologist.

Superintendent Steve Mazzi said Castiglione is the best fit for the school, students and the community.

"With Kim's institutional knowledge of where the building was and the direction of the district, and where we want the entire district to go, it really set her aside," Mazzi said. "We are thrilled about the fact we will have her there."

Castiglione's husband, Mike, is a biology teacher at Dublin Jerome High School. They have two children: Anthony, 4, and Nina, 1.

With her family by her side during last week's meeting, Castiglione quickly introduced herself and thanked the board. She said she is excited to be the school's principal.

Assistant Superintendent Angie Pollock said Castiglione is a great leader for the new school.

"I am very thrilled we are able to have someone with a great deal of leadership in our district who is so student-centered," Pollock said.

As a parent in the Harrison Street attendance area, school board member Andy Wecker said he is looking forward to the new school's opening.

"As much as I will miss the benefits of what my sons have had at (Rosecrans), I am so thrilled Kim has joined us with this new role," Wecker said. "I can't wait for the open house and I can't wait for the first day of school next year."

Harrison Street's building progress is on schedule. The building received fresh coats of paint and is continuously being cleaned. Mazzi said the next steps are to install tile and carpet.

Pollock said the community will be able to tour the school sometime in May.

During last week's meeting, Treasurer Felicia Drummey debunked some rumors regarding funds for the school's updates. Drummey said leftover bonds are able to pay for the estimated $388,000 costs.

"We are in a fortunate position that when we built both General Rosecrans and Big Walnut Middle School, we built at a time when the economy was down," Drummey said, "so our cost of construction came under budget. That money is restricted and can't be used for operating."

Drummey added that a lot of the work is being completed in-house, which helps keep the updates cost-efficient.

2014-15 calendar OK'd

Also at the meeting, the board approved the 2014-15 district calendar. The first day of school will move up to Aug. 13 for the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools. The first day of kindergarten and preschool will be Aug. 18.

The year will end earlier than usual, too. The last day of school will be May 22, 2015 -- the Friday before Memorial Day.

Pollock also updated the board about the new optional, tuition-based, all-day kindergarten, which will begin next school year. The district will release registration forms next week online. Forms also will be available at all elementary schools the week of March 3.

Typically, parents register children for kindergarten in April. However, the district moved up registration to help finalize class locations and numbers.

"We are bumping up and doing an early (registration), which will be the first week of March," Pollock said. "We would be looking at getting those kids registered as soon as possible so we can determine how many sections we will have of all-day and how many sections we will have of half-day."

The district released a survey in January to gather feedback from parents. Based on the 190 responses from interested parents, Pollock said Hylen Souders Elementary School will have at least one all-day kindergarten class.

"I am hopeful that we will be able to offer it at all the schools," Pollock said.

Since the district receives only half the funding for kindergarten than it does for grades 1-12, the district must offset the cost with tuition for the second half of the day. Tuition is $275 monthly for all-day kindergarten.

The Big Walnut school board next will meet at 6:30 p.m. March 13 in the media center at Big Walnut High School, 555 S. Old 3C Highway.