New Albany-Plain Local School District leaders have determined how they will reassign grade levels across four buildings and now plan to collect feedback from parents on school start times.

New Albany-Plain Local School District leaders have determined how they will reassign grade levels across four buildings and now plan to collect feedback from parents on school start times.

All the changes would go into effect when the new school year begins in August.

Superintendent Michael Sawyers on Jan. 12 told school board members grades would be organized into buildings according to the following grade-level groupings: preschool and kindergarten, grades 1-3, grades 4-6 and grades 7 and 8. High school students will remain in the same building.

Preschool and kindergarten will be in the current K-1 building. Grades 1-3 will move completely to the 2-5 building; grades 4-6 will move completely to the 2-8 Learning Center; and grades 7 and 8 will be in the middle school building.

Sawyers said the reconfiguration was necessary because the K-1 building nearly is at capactiy and New Albany Middle School cannot accommodate grades 6-8 in one location.

Beginning next school year, the district will launch its own preschool program, Sawyers said, and might add a section of all-day preschool. Half-day preschool currently is offered on campus by the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

Sawyers said the district's operation of preschool would be cost neutral because of tuition, which could increase. Right now, preschool costs parents $180 per month, he said.

The next step in the reconfiguration process is to determine new start times for the buildings, Sawyers said.

Currently, grades 6-12 start at 8 a.m., K-1 start at 9:05 a.m. and 2-5 start at 9:20 a.m.

The new grade configurations require three different start times 45 minutes apart, Sawyers said. Based on teachers union contracts, the school day cannot start earlier than 7 a.m. or end later than 4 p.m., he said.

Sawyers also recommended increasing the number of individual routes each bus covers from two to three, which would provide students up to 15 minutes of additional instructional time per day, he said.

The current two routes are for middle school and high school students and for students in grades K-5, said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. One group is transported to school and then the buses return for the second group; the process is repeated at dismissal.

If a third route were added, district leaders would have to create new drop-off and pick-up times and determine how the three groups of students would be divided, Gallaway said.

More information on both of these topics is expected to be discussed in the State of the Schools address at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, he said.

"The transitions all need to happen at the same time," Sawyers said.

Board member Laura Kohler said she supports the reconfiguration and Sawyers' recommendation for three bus routes.

"You've made some very, very sound and compelling conclusions," she said at the Jan. 12 meeting.

Board member Debbie Kalinosky said she thinks many people will be happy with the grade reconfiguration.

"It's really exciting," she said.

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