When most New Albany-Plain Local School District students resume classes, Thursday, Aug. 17, they will return to a campus that has been changed significantly.

The classroom reconfiguration the district announced at the beginning of this year will be in place for the start of the new school year.

Preschool and kindergarten classes have moved to the old K-1 building; grades 1-3 moved to the old 2-5 building; grades 4-6 moved to the 2-8 Learning Center; and grades 7 and 8 will be in the middle school building.

The buildings now are known as the Early Learning Center, New Albany Primary School, New Albany Intermediate School and New Albany Middle School.

Only New Albany High School remains unchanged in both grade levels and name.

Despite the grade-level shuffle, the priority for district leaders remains on meeting the academic and developmental needs of all students, Superintendent Michael Sawyers said.

"That really is the focus," he said.

The reconfiguration is "going to have a huge impact" on the district's ability to meet the students' daily needs, Sawyers said.

For the primary school, the reconfiguration meant a splash of color on the building's walls.

Teresa Smith, previously principal for grades 2-5, now will serve as principal for grades 1-3.

When staff members discussed how the building should be updated for the new students, they decided it needed to look and feel more "primary" and offer opportunities for students to learn throughout the building, Smith said.

"I think we've done an awesome job of picking colors that resonate with primary students," she said.

Hallways were painted purple, blue, green and yellow, she said. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts were added as decorations for the stairways.

Though grades 1-12 return to school Aug. 17, the district's preschool and kindergarten programs have a staggered start, beginning the next week.

All-day programs begin Aug. 22, and half-day programs begin Aug. 24, district spokesman Patrick Gallaway said.

The district has increased the number of all-day kindergarten sections from three to seven, Sawyers said.

Preschool, previously handled by the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, will now be under New Albany-Plain Local's direction, he said.

"We're really excited to welcome them to be part of our school district," Sawyers said.

He said he also hopes to build on last school year's academic progress for all grades.

That progress included the promotion of all third-graders to fourth grade, he said. Those promotions are dictated by the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

In addition, although middle school students' performance didn't meet a few indicators on the Ohio Department of Education's preliminary state report card, performance in specific subject matter increased by 30 to 40 percent from a year prior, he said.

Sawyers said he plans to share the report-card results with the school board Aug. 24.

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@ThisWeekSarah