Jefferson, Starr, Stolley Park Transition Period Q&A

Throughout the course of rolling out the two-year transition plan for Jefferson, Starr and Stolley Park elementary schools during the construction of the new Stolley Park and Jefferson buildings, Grand Island Public Schools has been keeping track of questions submitted by parents, staff and the community. 

At this point, questions have been divided into two topics: Jefferson and Starr and Stolley Park.

To make things clear, the current Starr Elementary is referred to as “Old Starr Elementary” and the Starr Elementary under construction is referred to as “New Starr Elementary.”

Jefferson Elementary

Q: Will additional transportation be offered for Jefferson students during the two year period they attend the Old Starr Elementary?

A: Yes. There will be busing made available for Jefferson students to and from school.

Q: Where will the bus stops be located?

A: We are still identifying the best locations for bus stops.

Q: How many different stops are you considering.

A: The final number will depend on established locations.

Q: How will students be able to sign up for busing?

A: We will have parent meetings to share the process on how to sign up for busing.

Q: Will students be allowed to eat breakfast on the bus in the mornings?

A: No. Students will be allowed to eat breakfast at school.

Starr and Stolley Park elementary

Q: Will students and staff be combined during the two years the schools are in the same building?

A: Yes. Students and staff will all be considered part of Starr Elementary. All students from both schools will be considered part of the same school.

Q: Why are they being combined and not kept separate?

A: A number of factors went into this decision, but the main reason is equity for all kids in heterogeneous classrooms. Combining the schools allows us to maintain balanced classrooms, more efficient uses of space and better instructional learning environments for all students.

Q: What does the process of assigning students to classrooms look like?

A: Near the end of a school year, teachers from one grade will come together and make recommendations for grouping students for the next grade for the following school year. These decisions are based on creating balanced classrooms considering the individual education needs of all students - special education, English Language Learners, High Ability Learners, behaviors and academics - as well as the collective makeup of classrooms, class sizes, space and scheduling. Teachers at Starr will make these recommendations for their students near the end of this school year, as will teachers at Stolley Park for their students. The difference this year is they will divide students across four (or in some cases five) classroom teachers for the next year rather than two or three. This will help the makeup of all classes be the right balance for all teachers and students. All student ability levels will get the resources they need.

Q: How can I guarantee my student gets a teacher from our current school?

A: All students will be guaranteed a qualified, caring Grand Island Public Schools teacher at Starr Elementary for the next two years. Our teachers are excited about the opportunity to work together to give every student the best education we can every day. All GIPS teachers receive support and training to meet the needs of all learners and this will continue.

Q. If all students and staff are considered Starr Elementary for the next two years, what happens with Stolley Park Elementary for that time?

A: Stolley Park Elementary will be dormant for two years during the construction of their new building. All records for students will show they were students of Starr Elementary for those two years.

Q: With two principals in charge of buildings now, who will be in charge of Starr Elementary during the two-year transition?

A: Current Starr Elementary principal John Hauser will be the head principal. Current Stolley Park Elementary principal Michael Persampieri will be the assistant principal. Both principals will be equally responsible for the care and support of students. When the new Stolley Park Elementary building opens, Mr. Persampieri will be the principal.

Q: How will music and PE teachers and counselors be divided among the buildings?

A: The district looks at the best way to assign these staff to all buildings each school year.

Q: What about secretaries, nurses, custodians and other classified staff? Will they all be at Starr for the next two years?

A: Yes. There will be two secretaries and two nurses. The entire classified staff of both schools will move to Starr for the next two years. The space will be shared among all staff.

Q: How will student transfers work during these two years?

A: Students who have opted into one of the two schools will become Starr students. When the new Stolley Park opens, students who had opted into Stolley Park will return to Stolley Park. As with any intra-district transfers, students will be able to transfer into Starr Elementary if there is room available during these two years. Transferring out of Starr during the two year transition would work the same. Parents can request a transfer to another GIPS school at May registration. Based on numbers at the requested school(s), parents will be notified by late July if the transfer is accepted or denied.

Q: Will additional transportation be offered for Starr and Stolley Park students during the two year period?

A: No.

Q: How will the Starr P.T.O. and the Stolley Park P.T.A. operate during these two years 

A: A new Parent Advisory Council will be created with members of both schools’ current parent groups. Whatever balance is in the Stolley Park P.T.A. has at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, will be guaranteed at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Any funds raised by the joint parent group during the two-year transition period will support all students. At the end of the two-year transition period, the district will make a contribution to both schools’ parent groups.

Q: Is there enough space for both schools in one building? What will combining the schools do to class sizes?

A: There is enough space. The new Starr building is being built as a four-unit school, with one extra educational space for each grade, for a total of 30 classrooms. Currently, Starr has 14 classrooms with an average of 19.71 students per class. Stolley Park has 12 classrooms with an average of 17.82 students per class. Combined, they have 26 classrooms with an average of 18.85 students per class. The district average for elementary classrooms this year is 19.32. 

Q: Will there be special “Starr only” or “Stolley Park only” events during these two years?

A: There will be Starr Elementary events because there will only be a Starr Elementary for these two years. There will be no division of students, resources, staff, parents, space or treatment of any kind during these two years.

Q: How will state reporting work for Stolley Park during these two years?

A: Stolley Park will have no school scores for the two years. All students will continue to have individual assessment data.