Madison-Plains starting school year much earlier


(Posted March 18, 2015)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

It’s going to be a short summer for students in the Madison-Plains Local School District.

The calendar for the 2015-16 school year will have students back in classes Aug. 17. With June 4 the last day of classes this year, students will have just over two months of summer vacation.

“It will be a short summer,” acknowledged Superintendent Tim Dettwiller on March 16 after the school board unanimously approved calendar changes he first proposed at last month’s board meeting. “But next summer will be longer.”

By starting earlier, the students will get out earlier, May 20.

Also, the school day will begin at a different time next year—7:45 a.m. for all students. Dismissal time for all students will be 2:50 p.m.

“It’s an earlier starting time for the high school, but later for the elementary students,” Dettwiller said.

The change differs from what the superintendent originally proposed in February. At that meeting, parents spoke up about how they would be affected by having different starting times for elementary and high school students.

The first item on the agenda for all students will be breakfast.

“Breakfast will be first period,” Dettwiller said, noting that 20 minutes will be allowed for what has been described as the most important meal of the day. “Middle and high school students will get a brown bag breakfast upon arrival, eat and then get started. Other students will spend their first 15 minutes at breakfast.”

Administrative changes will be imple-mented at the start of next school year, as well, as the district tries to operate more efficiently to ward off going into the red by 2018.

Instead of having four principals, there will be two principals and two assistant principals. The athletic director will report to the building principal rather than the superintendent as is the case now.

“There will be cost savings,” Dettwiller said.

The district is also trying to attract the estimated 150 students who live in the district but attend other schools through open enrollment. One way to do that, Dettwiller said, is to make improvements in the schools.

While students are on spring break this year, $80,000 worth of new furnishings will be brought into one room in each of the four buildings. These furnishings are being paid for through the permanent improvements levy voters recently approved.

Upgrades are also in store for the athletic facilities.

The garage-type doors on the weight room building will be replaced with regular doors to make it easier to get into and out of since there are weightlifting classes in that facility.

Improvements will be made at the baseball and softball diamonds.

“Lack of a warning track is an eyesore,” said Athletic Director Matt Mason of the condition at the baseball diamond. “It hasn’t been maintained for at least a decade.”

He had wanted a red brick type of dirt placed in front of the outfield fence, but it is so light, “It would blow over into the neighbor’s fields.” He chose, instead, a limestone based dirt that will not blow away.

Parking spaces will be added when gravel is put down by the current paved parking areas. Dettwiller said expanding the parking facilities around the baseball and softball diamonds will also help the situation during football and basketball seasons.

Board members also approved several donations, including:

  • $3,040 from the Scholastic Boosters for the high school Civics II class trip to Philadelphia and New York;
  • a $1,000 piano for the music program from Tom and Karen Buscemi of West Jefferson whose children attend Madison-Plains Schools; and
  • a $5,000 donation as the start of a project to match money from fundraisers for the athletic department. That donation came from Stanley Hanson, a graduate of the former Mount Sterling High School and a loyal supporter of Madison-Plains activities.

The board ended the hour-long meeting by going into an executive session to discuss personnel matters. The next board meeting will be April 21.

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