New Junior High School: Growth in enrollment prompts consideration

Vanessa Dietz/Daily Mining Gazette Adams Township School Board President Steve Nichols and members Justin Marier, Kristen Archambeau and George Eakin are pictured from the left, alongside high school Principal Steve Lishinski, elementary Principal Kim Harris and Superintendent Tim Keteri.

PAINESDALE — The Adams Township School District will consider creating a junior high school at Jeffers High School at its next meeting.

The change would involve moving sixth-graders to the third floor of the Painesdale High School from South Range Elementary School.

Teachers were informed of the possible changes during the day on Wednesday, before the School Board meeting that evening.

In considering the action, elementary Principal Kim Harris and high school Principal Steve Lishinski will address the concerns of staff and parents as the Curriculum Committee continues to evaluate the potential shift for the 2017-18 school year.

“As a district, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Superintendent Tim Keteri, noting the school’s growing student body is one of the reasons for the change. “Can you put together a program that will better serve the kids? That’s the bottom line.”

The move would help as the elementary school aims for smaller class sizes and offering regular specials, while the high school could offer more consistent electives with the additional students in the building.

Sixth-graders would no longer get recesses but would add a daily gym class. Lishinski said they would also gain a guided study hour, during which study skills would be taught.

In other news, Harris said book donations have been coming in and continue to be sought by the school. The books will be set out for students to take home for the summer.

“Our goal is to collect as many books as we can,” she said.

More good news came in an anonymous donation of $12,000 to upgrade the greenhouse with electricity and running water, Keteri said.

The board will hire a high school social studies teacher and a part-time elementary teacher and approved former longtime teacher Ken Kangas as commencement speaker.

The board approved tenure teaching contracts with Kelly Pitrone and Heather Brinegar; and 2017-18 probationary contracts to teachers Joann Feeley, Laura Larson, Charles Palosaari, Morgan Raether, Sam Kilpela, Madeline Larson, Rachel Torp, Jennifer Castellano and Jessica Shuett, who was also named track coach.