The Kingston City School District returns to class for the 2014-15 school year next week, but what kind of changes will students see when they’re all finished with summer break?
Hopefully they remember everything from last year,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino, laughing.
In his blog on the district’s official website last week, Padalino elaborated on some specifics to which students at Kingston High will look forward.
“As we open our doors for a new year, Kingston High School students will join classmates from across the Mid-Hudson region as our Carnegie Learning Center plays host to the innovative Hudson Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School, Padalino wrote. “Thanks to a partnership with Ulster BOCES, this six-year program will lead our students to a career in STEM areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. PTECH will also offer a way for students to earn an associate’s degree at no cost to them. Because we have the capacity to host this program at 403 Broadway, the barriers of time and travel will not impede our students’ success in P-Tech.”
Of course students at KHS will also face a very significant change when they begin the new school year: Kirk Reinhardt is taking over as principal from Adrian Manuel, who has moved on to become the head of school at the SEED School of Washington, D.C. Like Manuel, Reinhardt is a KHS alum (Class of ’82), and he’s spent the bulk of his educational career in the district. Reinhardt was most recently the district’s director of math, science and technology, but he’s been a physics teacher at Kingston High since 2001. He also worked six years as a physics teacher at New Paltz High School. Reinhardt also spent a year in the mid-2000’s on active duty as a headquarters platoon sergeant with the National Guard, earning the Bronze Star during his time in Iraq, where he was able to immerse himself in how education works in a very different part of the world.
Elsewhere, Padalino said that some changes in the district’s pair of middle schools are already ongoing, while others may seem familiar.
“The biggest thing is, even though last year was the first year with the merged schools and the fifth grades going into the middle school, we’re still early in the process,” Padalino said during a telephone interview. “The middle school schedules have been changes a little bit; we went from a 10-day schedule back to a six-day cycle. We moved technology classes back to the eighth grade from sixth and seventh; we moved art back into the fifth and sixth grade. There’s going to be some different scheduling in the middle schools.”
If any of that sounds confusing, it may prove less so to kids than their parents realize. “It’s easier for the students to adapt than adults,” Padalino said.
Science of the school bus
Students may also experience changes in bus routes, as a high number of kids in the district board a bus each day to get to and from school. According to Padalino, planning each year’s bus routes is an almost impossibly complex logic problem, the likes of which even the most dedicated math enthusiast might have extraordinary difficulty comprehending. The task largely falls on Judy Falcon, the district’s director of transportation.
“One of the things we’re doing that people don’t realize we do, is we’ve gone over and over and over again our transportation routes to make sure we have a bus for every student who needs transportation and that our routes are as efficient as they can be so we don’t have empty buses riding around,” Padalino said. “Those are the kind of things we’re gearing up to now. People can sometimes think a school bus comes and picks up their children and it just happens. But there’s definitely a science to it.”
According to Padalino, there are 135 buses on the road in the morning and 135 in the afternoon, with nearly 6,000 students relying on the district for transportation each day.
“During one 180-day school year, we travel more than 2 million miles,” Padalino said. “We have a great safety record. Judy does a great job up there. Our drivers and the bus companies do a great job. It’s an impressive operation.”
The district’s 47-page guide to the bus routes across the district were recently published at: https://www.kingstoncityschools.org/news.cfm?story=88951&school=0
One other change related to transportation was the addition of another potential snow day to the calendar. Last year, the district went over its allotment of six snow days and wound up having to make up the difference from various planned time off. With memories of last year’s weather and the potential for another rough winter, the district will now use up to seven snow days.
Students in all grades return to school on Wednesday, Sept. 3. Padalino said he’s spent the past week getting administrators, teachers and support staff ready for when the doors open for the 2014-15 school year.
“This is always the week I walk around and tell everybody, ‘Alright, summer’s over,'” Padalino said. “Kids are coming whether we’re ready or not, so we’d better be ready.”