Poland students start back to school Monday


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

POLAND

Students and parents can look forward to a smoother start to the school year – which begins Monday – compared with last year, Superintendent David Janofa said.

Though the school district remains in the midst of a building realignment plan, no further changes will take place until next year.

“We’re happy to say after last year, with the restructuring of the buildings, [everything] will be the same this year with schedules, start times,” Janofa said.

Implementation of the realignment plan, which is in response to downward-trending enrollment, began last year with the consolidation of K-4th-grade students into fewer buildings.

The plan calls for the closing of McKinley Elementary, now home to fifth and sixth grades, in 2017.

The district also continues to address what officials have characterized for many months as significant facility needs. The district last year asked voters to approve a bond issue to pay for a new K-8th-grade building, but it was defeated at the polls, and the school board opted not to try again.

“Obviously, our issues haven’t gone away. On a running tally of the last two years, with the fixes we’ve been talking about, we’re averaging just under $30,000 a month for repairs to all the buildings,” Janofa said.

The school board still is evaluating its options for addressing those facility needs. An online survey seeking community input on the issue goes live Monday, and will be available at polandbulldogs.com.

“We know the desire of the community was not to have a new K-8th-grade facility, so the board has decided to solicit information,” Janofa said. “This is just gathering more information so the board can make an informed decision.”

In terms of personnel changes, this school year brings few changes, with a few notable exceptions.

Karen Kanotz joined the district at the start of the month to fill the role of district director of instruction and student services.

Longtime district Treasurer Donald Stanovcak is retiring at the end of September; the school board has appointed Lori Posey, previously Columbiana schools’ treasurer, to fill the job in an interim capacity.

Rejoining the high-school staff this year is retired English teacher Suzanne Van Meter, who will lead the French program until the district phases it out.

Noting low enrollment in the program over the past several years, Janofa said the high school will accommodate those students who already have taken French courses, but will then end the program and focus additional resources on the Spanish and Italian programs.

“We obviously were very concerned about the students who made a commitment” to French, Janofa said. “We didn’t want to just end it; We wanted to make sure they have an avenue where they can finish their French program on a positive note.”

Other programming changes include: a second-level computer-programming class for high-school students who took a beginning course last year; expansion of “character education” classes led by guidance counselors for K-8th-grade students; and the addition of College Credit Plus courses in advanced biology and anatomy and physiology at the high school.

“Last year’s graduating class earned 1,194 college credits while in high school,” Janofa said. “Our hope is that we continue the trend.”

Also, the district is adding six technology carts this year – two each at the high school, middle school and McKinley. Each cart comes equipped with 30 Chromebook computers.

“We want to continue to prepare our students for the 21st century,” Janofa said.

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