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Watkins discusses single busing options

    WATKINS GLEN—Now that  the middle school consolidation has been approved by voters, the Watkins Glen board of education is looking at the issue of when to implement a single round of busing.
    Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Mike DeNardo gave the board a list of variables at the Monday, Dec. 19 school board meeting.  He said one is student placement and when exactly the fifth graders remain at the main campus as opposed to going to the middle school campus.   Next he said is when the district goes to single busing; currently, the buildings have different start times.  The last thing to consider is the construction timeline.
    DeNardo said if single busing started next year, high school students would have a 20 minute wait due to getting the middle and elementary students on the afternoon bus.  He said the year after that, when more students are located at the main campus, the wait would be cut in half.  By the third year, DeNardo said the district would be consolidated and there would be no wait time.
    Board members asked how many high school students actually ride the bus in the afternoon.  DeNardo said he would get the numbers.  Board member Mike Myers also said he wanted cost comparisons of starting single busing next year as opposed to in phases with the project.  The board will hold a meeting in January to go over all the information and make a decision.
    In other business:
    • Superintendent Tom Phillips’ contract was extended by one year, lasting until June 30, 2017.  The extension also includes a three percent increase in Phillips’ pay starting July 1, 2012.  District Business Administrator Gayle Sedlack added Phillips took a pay freeze last year.
    • Elementary Principal Rod Weeden said the New York State Education Department has changed the April testing schedule for math and English language arts again.  He said the state is proposing three days of testing (90 minutes per day) for each test, grades three to eight.  Before it was just two days of testing.  He explained that the time is doubled for special needs students, so where an average student has to take four and half hours for the math test and four and a half hours for the ELA test, a special needs student is looking at two nine-hour tests.  Phillips said, “I think it’s horrible.”
    The next school board meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 3, starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.


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