Elizabethtown Area School District

When: Elizabethtown Area School board meeting, Dec. 1.

What happened: Board members heard about preparations being made for moving third grade students from the district’s four elementary schools to Bear Creek School and sixth grade students from Bear Creek to the middle school. The move appears to remain on track for the start of the 2021-22 school year, despite requests from parents and a petition to delay the move by one year because of concerns that students have experienced too much change this past year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Background: The school board made the decision to move the two grades in March 2019, and renovations are now under way at the middle school to construct classrooms for the sixth grade. That work is slated to be completed by summer.

What’s next: Board President Terry Seiders said after the meeting the board’s response to the parents’ request will be made known at the Dec. 15 meeting. He said there could possibly be a vote on postponing the transition, or the board may reaffirm the original decision and timeline.

What to expect: Nate Frank, principal at Bear Creek, and Kara Schoessler, middle school principal, outlined the transition activities completed and the preparations planned for both teaching staff and students. Third-graders and third-grade teachers will  use Chromebooks with the Schoology learning management system rather than the Seesaw platform used for the younger grades. Third grade teachers will continue teaching the four core subjects — math, language arts, social studies and science —  as they do now.

Also: Frank described how welcoming activities for second and third graders heading to Bear Creek will take place in spring, including building tours and meeting teachers. In spring and summer, current fourth grade student leaders will be involved in welcoming and orientation activities for the new students. Schoessler said sixth grade teachers have toured the building as renovations are under way. “They were so excited with the amount of natural light that comes into these classrooms, the view that these teachers and students are going to have, and the space in the classrooms.”

Virtual activities: Seventh and eighth grade students will volunteer as “Zoom buddies” to help the fifth and sixth graders with next year’s move. Virtual parent nights for incoming sixth  and seventh graders and virtual building tours are set for May with in-person tours to take place in August.

Timeline: At the board’s Jan. 12 workshop meeting, the administration will present an updated timeline for the process of deciding on whether to close Mill Road and Rheems elementary schools and consolidate grades kindergarten through second into East High and Bainbridge elementary schools, or to continue with a planned renovation to Rheems.  

Reorganization: The board unanimously reelected Seiders as board president and M. Caroline Lalvani as vice president.

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