A new system for buses in the morning is just one of the changes taking place at Kingsland as school is set to begin next week.

“We’re opening up the front bus loop for families, and we’re taking the big buses back to the door by the café so that in inclement weather, the students can come in, and preschoolers through third grade can eat breakfast before school starts — they can come right in off the bus and eat right away in the morning when they get here, because we want to increase instructional time,” explained Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe.

Priebe and other district administrators took some time out from making preparations for the new school year to explain changes for the new year, including students getting off the bus on a new bus loop behind the building on the east side for safety and school day scheduling purposes, as well as some other changes at the elementary and middle school for 2014-2015.

“The biggest change is the buses will be unloading and loading on the east side of the building, not the west,” he continued. “The transfer buses to Wykoff are the same — we still have the challenge of getting the students there and here and still have the same amount of instructional time — but the students in preschool through third grade will go directly to the café to eat breakfast. It will give them optimal instructional time and still provide the breakfast that they want and need before the day starts. The changes will offer support and safety by getting the kids away from County 1 and out of the aggressive west weather.” 

Kingsland’s building and maintenance director, John Dols, noted that the “back parking lot is just for buses and teaching staff, and parents who are dropping off their kids can use the elementary bus loop and walk back to the café.”

Priebe added that he hopes that parents who use the elementary bus loop on the west side of the building “park efficiently so that there’s room for another person to park in front of or behind them, and to always leave room for a lane of traffic…that’s still our front fire lane.”

New striping on the east side of the building will direct students toward the cafeteria door, but students of all ages are welcome to come in any school door.  However, Kingsland additional staff will not be available to supervise students who have simply been dropped off early at school — the change in bus zoning and morning procession to the Kingsland Café isn’t meant to replace the Kingsland school age child care (SACC) program, according to Priebe and Dols.

“Breakfast is served at 7:45, so we ask that parents try not to let their kids get here before 7:40,” said Dols.

Priebe added that if a student arrives at school before the building opens, it’s not a big problem — staff will likely acknowledge the student and go on their way to get ready for the day — but he encouraged parents whose young children arrive very early to consider participation in the SACC program or make other arrangements.

“We’re using the café for a purpose, but we also need families to use SACC…this does not take the place of SACC, as SACC is still open for business,” he said.

Priebe shared that SACC and preschool have undergone changes for the school year as well. SACC has relocated to the former preschool room, and the preschool program now has nine different options total for 3- and 4-year-olds and 4- and 5-year-olds to explore education, instead of the original two options of two-day or three-day morning or afternoon sessions.

“We wanted to make sure there were enough options provided for families,” he said.  “We’ve had to hire new staff to make it work, but we’re excited to have so many options.”

Kingsland’s community education coordinator, Becky Bicknese, related that SACC program for preschool students during school hours and Kingsland’s preschool program use the same curriculum and cost the same per hour so that families do not have to make the choice between sending their children to one program and miss out on the benefits of the one that would suit them best. “It’s the same price per hour so that they’re not making the choice of which one they can afford better. Also, SACC is an extension of preschool…we’re using the exact same curriculum.”

In middle school news, there will be two sections of each grade level, and all students in fourth through sixth grade must participate in choir and music.

“All students in fourth through sixth will have music and choir — it’s no longer optional — but band is still an elective,” cited Priebe, who added that Josh Hogberg will now teach music classes at the middle school.

Doug Bergey will now be teaching special education at the middle school, Adam Tri will be teaching fifth grade, Jeffrey Ubinger will teach sixth grade, and Jasper Hamersma will join the staff as a paraprofessional.

Personnel changes at the elementary include Julie Tart graduating from teaching second grade to third grade, Amanda McCarty teaching music to kindergarten through third grade, Angela Forland joining the staff as a third grade teacher, Seth Heusinkveld teaching kindergarten through sixth grade Project Lead the Way (PLTW) classes, Rachel Robinson as the new early childhood special education teacher, Sam Van Gorp moving from early childhood special education to Title I, Karli Beissel and Anna Krahn teaching preschool, Janelle Rowe as a paraprofessional, and Robert Rowe as an elementary cook.

Kingsland High School Principal Jim Hecimovich reported that there will be a new PLTW class — a computer science engineering course taught by Todd Davis — and new College in the Schools (CIS) classes, including college calculus and three CIS English courses taught by Stacey Hogberg, and new regular classes such as an English sports literature class that he noted “will be a nice option for students” who may not be otherwise interested in learning the fine tenets of English language or who simply love sports.

“We’re continuing with CIS, career education, Project Lead the Way, implementing a new social studies curriculum this year, and we’re also working on a new teacher evaluation program,” he said.

District and high school personnel changes include welcoming high school secretary Susan Schultz, school psychologist Brian Feight, custodian John Koch, athletic director Steve Hauser, building and grounds director Dols, DCD/work transition coordinator Amanda Harms, and McCarty directing the seventh through 12th grade choirs.

Priebe pointed out that all students will once again be getting out of school early on Wednesdays, beginning on Sept. 10.  They’ll be dismissed at 2:10 p.m. on Wednesdays and they’ll get to the buses at 2:15 p.m.

Hecimovich said that he enjoys “getting the kids back.”

“I’m excited to have a successful year with families,” said Priebe. “The focus is on student achievement in a healthy environment. Students come to school to learn, and we couldn’t do that without having everybody on board. We’re excited.”