Letters have gone out to parents in the Malone Central School District, explaining which elementary school their kids will attend next year.

Three buildings — Flanders Elementary, St. Joseph's Elementary and Davis Elementary — have each been reconfigured to serve prekindergarten to fifth-grade students.

Now, all of the district's pre-K, first- and second-graders attend Davis, while Flanders and St. Joe's have kids in grades three, four and five.

Reconfiguration also includes construction of playground equipment at St. Joe's and Flanders for the pre-kindergartners, first- and second-graders to use.

The pre-K lottery will be held June 1 as usual, and district officials say they will do what they can to place those children in their home schools.

Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade will be assigned their elementary school based on their home address.

FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS

Walbridge said the reconfiguration will allow students to stay and learn in one building for their first years of schooling, creating familiar surroundings and teachers and staff who know them and their needs.

"This puts kids in one spot, at one location," he said. "We'll know the kids better than we do now — from the time they are in pre-K all the way up to fifth grade."

He said transportation will also be improved because now, kids ride buses that make six stops to take on and drop off students at each elementary school, and there will be only three stops instead under the new rules.

It eliminates congestion and may add extra instruction time to the schoolday in the future, Walbridge said.

REVISED BUS ROUTES

The changes were to be implemented along with the first phase of the district's $29 million construction and renovation capital project last year.

But there wasn't time to pull it all together amid change orders, the unexpected discovery of asbestos and other issues, said Superintendent Wayne Walbridge.

The School Board brought the idea up again in November 2011, and a committee went to work drawing up the plan, which also includes revised bus routes, he said.

The reconfiguration work comes as the district prepares for implementation of State Education Department guidelines for Annual Professional Performance Review evaluations for teachers and principals, Walbridge said.

"The board felt reconfiguration this way was the best, physically and educationally, and the staff has been very understanding," he said.

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Some veteran teachers will remain in their classrooms at the same grade level, while other teachers will be switched to different grades than they have taught in the past.

"Now a third- or fourth-grade teacher might go to first grade, which has a lot of benefit to it because they know what is expected of second-graders, and it will be the same for pre-K through five," the superintendent said.

Teachers coming in with a fresh perspective could then make sure each student achieves the tools necessary to be successful so they can move on to the next grade, Walbridge said.

Email Denise A. Raymo at: draymo@pressrepublican.com

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