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By John Addyman

NEWARK (Sep 8 10) – How smoothly did schools open in the village this morning?

“Probably our best opening yet,” said Middle School Principal Mark Miller.

“To have the energy back in the building was incredible,” said High School Principal Kevin Whitaker.

Kelly School Principal Chrstine Mizro met students with a bubble-shooting gun.

“There’s nothing like seeing all those smiling faces,” said Perkins Principal Susan Achille.

“We had a banner day,” said Lincoln Principal Donna Buck. “We heard about all the front teeth lost during the summer and saw all the new backpacks and shoes.”

Schools Superintendent Henry Hann reported that enrollment for the first day was 2,247 – down 47 from last year. The official enrollment will be counted in October. An unexpected jump in sixth-grade enrollment, with parents registering kids Labor Day weekend, was a surprise. Numbers keep dropping at the high school.

In the school board meeting tonight, Assistant Superintendent for Business Bob Fogel detailed again what’s known about school funding for this year. The bottom line at the moment is that the state funded Newark’s costs this year at $25.4 million of the budget, about 65 percent.

Fogel predicts the state funding level at $24.7 million next year – $700,000 less than this year and $2.5 million less than it was two years ago – and warned that another reduction is coming that could cost the district another $180,000, and that was a guess.

The good news came in two packages – the Federal Jobs Bill will bring about $580,000 and can pay salaries for new or present employees – and the Race to the Top Funds coming to the state should add about $200,000, but in earmarked areas.

“Next year is the year I’m most worried about,” said Fogel. “To be talking about revenue this early in the school year is crazy.”

New Programs

The district has two initiatives for the school year. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Yvonne Saner detailed a new emphasis on higher-level thinking skills to increase achievement at the higher levels, and a 21st Century Grant will provide $90,000 annually for three years to develop programs that will target at-risk, disconnected middle-school students.

Saner said staff members spent three days learning “acquisition lessons” to introduce extended thinking pieces into classrooms. Teachers will develop processes and techniques during the year and blend those into curriculum changes next summer.

The 21st Century Grant was won jointly by Newark, Lyons, North Rose-Wolcott and Clyde-Savannah districts. In Newark, the funding will kick-start a program that will add an after-school curriculum blending homework assistance and special activities. Staff members and students alike are being asked what they’d like to do until 5:20 p.m. four days a week. Teachers are suggesting courses like small-engine building and jewelry-making, while kids are being surveyed this week.

“It’s really exciting,” said Miller. “It’s targeted for students not involved in athletics or after-school activities who are not engaged in school and are in academic difficulty.” But the programs are open to everyone, and will even offer activities at night and weekends, if possible.

Saner said if the district can keep the targeted kids in the program for 30 days, school officials should, by research, expect to see better grades, a decrease in discipline problems and improvements in attendance and attitude toward school.


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