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Changes help ease crowding, satisfying state's standards



Published: Mon, November 19, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Classes were conducted in previous years in the band room and library.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- Some modifications to facilities and changes in curriculum have helped to ease crowding problems in the city's school buildings.

One factor listed in the district's continuous improvement plan approved in June 2000 as contributing to its academic watch status was lack of facilities.

Academic watch status was lifted late last year when the district met an additional state performance standard to move into the continuous-improvement category.

The plan points to space constraints at the elementary and high schools.

"At the high school, students are taking classes in rooms that were not designed to be classrooms and/or are taking classes in rooms that are too small to hold the number of students assigned," the plan says.

Superintendent Patrick N. Guliano said classes were conducted in previous years in the band room and library.

"Those have all been eliminated. The only people who go to the library now are people who want to go. They don't have to have classes in there," Guliano said.

Early birds: Since the plan was approved, the district has made some changes, including enabling some high school students to start and end their school day earlier through early-bird classes.

Sixteen classes are offered on the earlier schedule this year, including some advanced-placement classes.

Students taking advantage of the early-bird schedule may start their school days at 7 a.m. Most classes start at 7:50 a.m.

The idea is to free up more classrooms during the day.

"The early-bird classes have helped and the conversion of one of the home economics rooms to science also has helped," Guliano said.

The high school had two home economics classrooms and modified one into a science classroom for this year. The number of students in home economics also was decreasing, the superintendent said.

Several semester science classes were combined into a Biology 2, cutting down on the number of classrooms needed.

"It's all been streamlined," Guliano said.

Some kindergarten pupils at Bonham Elementary School were shuffled to Lincoln Elementary this year to alleviate crowding at Bonham.

"It was all to make the numbers balance," Guliano said.

What was suggested: At a September school board meeting, John H. Davis, a board member, proposed a plan to add 20 classrooms to the high school.

He suggested the district borrow the money and pay it back using money saved by severing ties with the Gordon D. James Career Center.

Niles sends the most students of the five districts that make up the career center compact. The district pays tuition to the center for its students.

That suggestion hasn't moved since Davis proposed it.

Guliano said the district is waiting for its master plan being developed by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission.

Completion of the master plan is a step needed for districts seeking eligibility to complete renovation projects through a state program.

"They've told us not to make any major changes to our facilities until we get the master plan," Guliano said.

dick@vindy.com




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