Changes await kids in some school districts
Soon, school buses will again dot the land.
The time to resume school routines — or start them for the first time — arrives next week, though start dates will vary from school district to school district.
In most districts, it will be hectic, but in the same way the first day always is. A few districts, however, face significant changes.
In Ballston Spa, a new elementary school will open and another will be closed temporarily for the year, while the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District will become the latest — and one of the last — to offer a full-day kindergarten program.
But in every district, there will be students nervously anticipating their first day with new teachers, or the transition to middle school or high school. There’s the spending to prove it. Across the country, parents and caregivers have spent an estimated $26.7 billion on back-to-school clothing and supplies, according to PC Magazine.
But parents, be aware that whatever you’ve bought can’t instill as much confidence in your students as you can.
“Show the students how confident you are that they will have a great day. Kids sense your expectations,” said Christy Multer, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools spokeswoman.
Some other suggestions: visit school websites — nearly every district now has one — and sign up for whatever communications your school provides; it will pay off throughout the year.
And maybe try to have children get ready early on the first day.
“The first day or two, we suggest you get up 10 minutes early, because something always comes up,” said Stuart Williams, a spokesman for the Ballston Spa Central School District.
And while school officials won’t necessarily highlight it, parents should realize buses are likely to run late the first day, and quite possibly most of the first week, as students, drivers and teachers become used to new routines.
In Burnt Hills, the creation of full-day kindergarten classes in place of half-day classes is the biggest change the district will have this year. The kindergarten classes start Monday, Sept. 9; other classes resume Friday.
During budget deliberations last winter, Multer said, officials realized the increased cost for teachers would be offset by savings from fewer midday bus runs.
“We discovered we had the space for it and also that it wouldn’t cost us any extra money,” Multer said.
A few parents who still wanted the half-day program are being accommodated, but those students will start half-day and transition to full-day, Multer said.
“The teachers are excited, too, because in a half-day program they couldn’t do everything they wanted to do,” Multer said.
BH-BL is also dropping out of the national school lunch program this year, frustrated with the strict new rules that have come from Washington — a decision that briefly earned the district notoriety this summer on talk radio and in conservative media. The district found the federal healthy lunch rules were resulting in wasted food and students complaining about small portions.
“We will still be serving healthy, nutritious lunches,” Multer said. “We will still have free and reduced-price lunches.”
In Ballston Spa, the new Gordon Creek Elementary School, filled with state-of-the-art learning tools, will open Friday at the school district’s Wood Road complex. Students will move from another school in the complex.
At the same time, students who last year attended Malta Avenue Elementary School will be moving into the former Milton Terrace school. It’s only for one year, while the aging Malta Avenue buildings are renovated. The elementary day will also now begin at 9 a.m., instead of 9:05.
Both the new school and the renovations at Malta Avenue are part of a $50 million, multi-year upgrade to Ballston Spa schools.
The schools will have open houses and orientation sessions Wednesday, as well as a barbecue to mark Gordon Creek’s opening. Williams said parents are urged to bring their students to make their transition easier.
“The teams are all in place, and the [classroom groupings] are all the same, so hopefully it happens smoothly,” Williams said.