New School Year Brings Surprises In Fulton

FULTON, NY – Fulton school district is experiencing an unexpected boost in enrollment this year. Since the first day of school, administrators are working to find a manageable balance in class loads as they keep an eye on students who are enrolling late.

Superintendent Bill Lynch and Elizabeth Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment, delivered the annual report on opening week of school to the Fulton Board of Education Tuesday.

The two explained that while the start of the 2008-09 school year went well, it also came with its surprises.

“We have the largest kindergarten class we’ve had in a while,” Conners said. “At the elementary level, it is the largest class.”

A month before school started, Conners said that the district expected to see approximately 261 students enter kindergarten classrooms. At the beginning of school, more than 300 students were enrolled.

“Some classes have over 22 kids,” she said. “That was not true as of the first week in August.”

Conners explained that the district has 14 kindergarten classes among the four elementary buildings; with seven sections on each side of the Oswego River. As of Tuesday, all kindergarten classes reported enrollment of more than 20 students with the exception of Granby Elementary.

“We’ve been monitoring enrollment on a daily basis,” Conners said.

At this time, she said enrollment is substantial in kindergarten and fourth grade at both Fairgrieve and Lanigan, as well as in kindergarten, first and second grades at Volney.

“We are able to use the sister school model to accommodate (students who transfer in now),” she said.

Under the model, the district is redirecting incoming students to other buildings to level out class loads. Students who would normally attend Lanigan Elementary based on where they live will be placed in classes at Granby Elementary when Lanigan reaches capacity in a grade level, and vice-versa. The same process is used between Volney and Fairgrieve elementary schools.

Lynch pointed out that the paperwork associated with transfers has been substantial this year. Citing an example, the district’s special education program saw 42 transfers in and 42 transfers out of the district (K-12) this year.

“That is a lot of work,” he said.

The start of the year marked:

  • The second full year of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Program, which was established to address the behavioral and discipline systems needed for successful learning and social development of students.
  • A new traditional 40-minute period schedule for the junior high school
  • A new schedule at the high school to accommodate for the second phase of the advisory program
  • The implementation of a new reading series at the elementary level as well as the continuation of Fast ForWord, Read 180 and Read Naturally
  • The third year of Freshman First Day at the high school
  • The start of the Alternative Education Continuum at the Education Center

Lynch explained, too, that the district is working to fully implement a new system that will allow parents and students at the high school and junior high to access grades online. Most of the staff at the two buildings have been trained, Lynch said, and the district will continue efforts to get the system up and running.

“Some will be up and running (soon),” he said. “All (accounts) will be by the end of the quarter.”

Lynch also reports that the Golden Sun bus company saw a 100 percent return rate for drivers this year.

“We had all of our students home quickly Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” Conners noted.

Sgt. Joseph Pappalardo of the Fulton City Police Department said that all officers are directed to be out monitoring roads at the beginning and close of the school day when not out on other calls.

“When school is in session, we are watching drivers closely to make sure they are obeying speed limits and not passing buses,” he said. “We stress the importance of keeping kids safe. So far, we’ve had no problems.”

1 Comment

  1. Nicole Reome provided an excellent report of the Superintendent and Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment’s “Opening Day” report to the Board of Education. You accurately and succintly reported the information for those who could not attend. Thanks for getting it right so often. – Matt Geitner

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