District prepares for grouping plan

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District is educating staff about grade-level grouping, although it won’t go into effect until the next school year.

The district’s buildings will undergo a 2014-15 conversion from neighborhood-based schools to grade-level grouping. District officials feel the new system will be a more efficient way of educating city elementary students.

Makeup of the district’s three elementary schools will be: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School; grades two and three at Glebe Street Elementary School; and grades four, five and six at Warren Street Elementary School.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli recently reported to the Board of Education he met two times with a transportation committee studying logistics of grade-level grouping. He said additional panels are making plans.

“The other committees are set to meet,” DeLilli said.

Pleasant Avenue Elementary School Principal Jeffrey Vivenzio said “welcome committees” were due to meet soon to review information about grade-level grouping.

“Pleasant Avenue is going to send out am email to all the prospective pre-K and kindergarten teachers,” he said.

Board member Ronald Beck said he thought some of the meetings related to grade-level grouping should be mandatory.

“I have a feeling you’ll get great attendance,” DeLilli said.

Warren Street Elementary School Principal Scott Ziomek said the “ball’s already rolling” on staff meetings discussing various topics related to grade-level grouping.

DeLilli said he also has discussed the logistical challenges for staff with district Director of Facilities and Operations Leo Loveless.

“The other topic we talked about is packing and moving,” the superintendent said.

The Board of Education voted 9-0 in March to implement the grade-level grouping program, despite some objections from the public.

Pleasant Avenue Elementary School will be reconfigured as an “early learning center” with a focus on providing the students with a foundation in reading and math, with a comprehensive approach to screening and diagnostics and early intervention resources.

Glebe Street Elementary School will be reconfigured as a primary instruction center for second and third grades. The change will allow “for a focus on young readers and critical thinkers, incorporation of multiple subjects and hands-on learning experiences,” according to the resolution approving the plan.

The resolution stated the Warren Street Elementary School building will become an “intermediate instruction center” allowing for incorporation of a “focus on problem solvers, student project-based learning, and band, chorus and art ensembles.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.