NILES Move addresses school overcrowding problem

Transferred pupils will continue to ride the same school bus with pupils attending Bonham.
NILES -- Fourteen kindergartners who expected to attend Bonham Elementary School will attend Lincoln instead because of overcrowding.
Superintendent Patrick Guliano said 44 children registered to attend kindergarten at Bonham for the 2001-02 school year, compared with 28 last year.
"They've all been notified by mail," he said. "Those students west of North Road will be bused to Lincoln."
How this will work: The children will ride the bus with pupils who attend Bonham. When the Bonham children are dropped off, the bus will continue to Lincoln.
The transferred youngsters also will be dismissed slightly earlier from Lincoln so they can be taken by bus to Bonham and ride home with the same pupils in their neighborhoods.
That allows the kindergartners to ride the bus with their older siblings who attend Bonham, the superintendent said. The district has all-day kindergarten classes.
Guliano has gotten calls from some parents concerned about the move, particularly about separating siblings, but he said most of them understood once he explained the situation.
"It's in the best interest of education," Guliano said.
Here's why: The move enables the district to maintain a roughly 23-to-1 pupil-to-teacher ratio among kindergarten classes. Educators recommend a pupil-to-teacher ratio of no higher than 25-to-1.
"Neighborhoods turn over," Guliano said. "Older couples sell their homes to younger families."
The district added a kindergarten classroom, which includes restrooms, at Lincoln to accommodate the 14 additional children.
"The following year, they should be able to return to Bonham," the superintendent said.
In the high school: The district has been dealing with overcrowding the past few years and offered juniors and seniors at McKinley High School the option of early-bird classes last year.
This year, that option has been extended to freshmen and sophomores.
Students opting for earlier classes start their days at 7 a.m. rather than the 7:50 regular school day start. Their dismissal bell rings at 2 p.m. rather than the 2:50 p.m. time for other students.
When the new middle school opens in Brynhyfryd Park off state Route 46 on the south side, overcrowding will be alleviated, Guliano said.
The district's five elementary schools house kindergarten through sixth grade. Seventh- and eighth-graders attend Edison Junior High School, which will close when the new middle school opens. Ninth- through 12th-graders go to the high school.
The new school, expected to open in fall 2002, will house pupils in grades six through eight. Opening the new school will free elementary room space occupied by sixth-grade classrooms.
"We're utilizing every classroom in every building every period of the day," Guliano said.

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