FULTON, NY – Fulton’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program will offer transportation to students beginning in the 2018-19 school year for the first time.
Fulton’s UPK program offers half-day morning and afternoon programs in partnership with Oswego County Opportunities, the Fulton YMCA, First Step Universal Pre-K and Pinnacle and are held at each FCSD elementary school: Volney, Granby, Fairgrieve and Lanigan.
Betsy Conners, FCSD Director of Instruction and Assessment, proposed the inclusion of door-to-door transportation for UPK students to and from their school.
Having met with the district’s transportation department, Conners reached an agreement that will offer all four-year-old UPK students transportation by school bus.
UPK students will be transported in the morning on a regularly scheduled bus route with other elementary students. Students in morning classes will be transported home on a special run and students in afternoon classes will be picked up after having dropped off morning students. Students will then be transported home on regularly scheduled bus routes with other elementary students at the end of the school day.
To enroll in UPK, students must be four-years-old on or before December 1, 2018. Three-year-old students will not be eligible for transportation by bus until they are four-years-old due to car-seat regulations.
All UPK students will be required to sit in the front of the bus with seat belts.
Using regularly scheduled bus routes, the only costs incurred will be from the midday bus run, however, Conners ensures no local dollars will be utilized to implement transportation for UPK students.
“I have budgeted, it will run my budget very tight, there will have no extra funds,” Conners said, “But there will be no local dollars spent.”
Due to the current scheduling of bus routes, students will be enrolled in their catchment school to avoid use of transfer buses.
“I do believe that this will increase our enrollment,” Conners said. “We’ve asked for the last few years on our registration if parents would utilize transportation and of course, parents want transportation.”
Board member David Cordone supported the proposal, saying transportation was often a barrier for students. Former board member Christine Plath agreed, saying this would be a “game changer” for many Fulton families.
The Fulton Board of Education was unanimously supportive of a one-year pilot with an update to be provided at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
Also new this year, Heather Witter will begin her position as Director of Universal Pre-K and Literacy.
Witter began her career with the Fulton City School District in 2002 as a fourth grade teacher at Volney Elementary. In 2008, she transitioned to principal of Granby Elementary School where she has been serving since.
Witter holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Buffalo, a Master’s degree from the New York State College at Oswego, and has completed a Certificate in Advanced Study in school administration from SUNY Oswego as well as serving one year in an administrative internship in the district.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Pulvino recommended Witter for the position, noting that she is a graduated of the Fulton City School District.
“She exemplifies dedication to Fulton’s students and their families,” said Pulvino. “I have been impressed with (Witter’s) leadership and the support she has provided to her faculty and staff. In addition to her experience as a building principal, (Witter) has served on may district-wide committees and other initiatives that provide her with varied experiences as she begins her new district responsibilities.”
Witter said she is “very excited” to assume her new title within the district.
“I’ve been a part of this district for 16 years so I’m really looking forward to taking what I’ve learned along the way and applying it on my new journey. I’m very excited and thankful to get to keep working with our staff and families,” Witter said.
Pulvino noted that a comprehensive search will begin immediately to find a new principal for Granby Elementary School.
“The district will begin an immediate search process for a success to Mrs. Witter that will include staff and community members in the process. If all phases of the search process fall into place, we hope to have a successful candidate in place for the start of the school year,” Pulvino said.
Registration for UPK is still underway. Information regarding registration can be found on the district’s website.