Much like Christmas, or Hanukah, the first day of school seems to creep up on us, especially when it happens before Labor Day, which it typically does. During the weeks leading up to the opening of school, custodial staff worked tirelessly to get the classrooms ready, said School Supt. Robert Gilbert at the August Board of Education meeting. “It’s hard to clean the building when the building never sleeps,” he added.c Between the Recreation summer camp, Extended Day and summer school programs, different parts of the building are in use throughout the month of July.
As it turned out programming was not the only problem the custodial staff had to deal with. “During late August, the combination of humidity and increased air temperatures had an impact (mold) in some of the Beecher Road School classrooms,” Gilbert wrote in a statement on Friday, August 24. bHe did not say which classrooms were affected or how many of them.
He said district officials took immediate action “to aggressively re-clean impacted areas with the help of an outside cleaning company, ServPro. The school/district medical adviser as well as the Quninnipiac Valley Health District sanitarian were contacted to provide guidance and input. “They affirmed the process that was taken and assured us that school should open as planned,” he wrote. “The administration continues to work with our HVAC vendor to maximize our systems’ efficiencies during this hot and humid time of year.”
The only thing that was canceled on Thursday, August 23, were the informal meet-and-greet sessions where students can come before the official start of school to meet their new teachers.
Four new educators have joined the roster of teachers at Beecher Road School this year, two of whom had previously spent some time at the school as former interns.
Heather Minardi will step into the shoes of Dr. Caron Stebinger, the school’s long-time science coordinator, who retired in June. Mrs. Minardi’s role will be slightly modified in that the position is now that of a STEAM teacher, combining Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math. She comes to Beecher from a STEM magnet school in New Haven.
Jason Nolan joined the fourth-grade team. He previously served as a teacher assistant in the special education program. Like Ms. Minardi, he also was a former intern.
Kristina Conroy joined the fifth-grade team. She has four years of experience and previously taught in Ansonia.
Kathleen Marlor is a part-time resource teacher in special education. She brings eight years of experience, most recently at Bethany Community School. She previously worked at the Children’s Dyslexia Center.
After a 6.5 percent increase of the student population over the course of the last school year, enrollment at Beecher Road School seems to have reached a plateau this summer, with 850 students recorded at the end of the 2017-18 school year, and the same number at the end of August. However, with the most recent enrollment increases fresh on his mind, School Supt. Bob Gilbert was cautious whether there could be a last-minute influx of new students. “We’re starting off at the same number as at the end of last year,” he said. “But those numbers can change.”
Principal Gina Prisco said 109 students enrolled for kindergarten, distributed over 6 classrooms, as last year. Every grade level now has six sections except third grade, which has seven sections and sixth grade has five.
According to board policy, current recommended class size is 17-19 students for the lower grades, K thorough 3; and 19-21 students in the upper grades. These are recommended guidelines and have on occasion been exceeded by one or two students. An ad hoc committee of the Board of Education will be looking at those class size recommendations, to figure out whether they need to be updated.
The special education program has seen an increase in its population and as a result the district has hired an additional part-time resource teacher. It also made additional room for the special education program by moving the town’s Recreation Department office to the district offices. The school district’s business office was moved to the Town Hall. Should the need arise for additional classrooms, the superintendent told the board, they could ask some of the specials teachers to move from classroom to classroom, thus making their room available.
Following the example of many school administrators, who have been using social media platforms to communicate with their student and parent population, Beecher Road School will have an Instagram account with the handle of BRSowls. Instagram is an online site dedicated to sharing pictures and videos. “Instagram will allow BRS administrators to share special events, celebrate student accomplishments, highlight student work and give you a peek into day-to-day happenings,” Supt. Gilbert wrote in a Parent Update.
Assistant Principal Analisa Sherman is the administrator for the BRSowls account. She said it is a private account, restricted to parents and students currently enrolled at the school. Parents must request access to see the pictures posted there. They can request access through Instagram, but also need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include their name, Instragram name, the names of their children and their grade levels.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
Pictured: The 2018-19 school year is underway in Woodbridge. Incoming Kindergarten students had the chance to ride the bus with their parents before the start of school.