By KATIE ATKINS
OBSERVER Staff Writer
MAYVILLE - It was a smooth first week for Ripley students in the process of transitioning to Chautauqua Lake Central School as part of a tuitioning agreement approved in March. High school Principal Josh Liddell and Superintendent Ben Spitzer spoke highly of the first week of school in an informational email to the OBSERVER.
Students in an earth science class at Chautauqua Lake Central School from left are Jasmine Schofield, Collin Bailey, teacher Steven Johnston, Tanner McCutcheon and Mitchell Gleason. Collin and Tanner are students from Ripley that are now attending CLCS for the first year of a five-year tuitioning agreement.
Principal Lidell said, "Since the first day the tuitioning of Ripley students was approved, both Ripley and Chautauqua Lake administrators and instructional staff have worked collaboratively to ensure that all our students had a smooth transition into the 2013-14 school year."
Liddell said CLCS "developed a transition plan that included everything from meetings between our student administrations to grade level shadowing days in the spring, in which students from Ripley shadowed Chautauqua Lake students."
"Guidance counselors and I met with each individual Ripley class," Liddell said. "We provided tours of the building for students and their parents and we set up a dance and fun night attended by students from both schools."
According to Spitzer, throughout discussions with Ripley, Chautauqua Lake consistently used 130 students as the estimated enrollment in order to calculate tuition. In addition, the district continued to use this estimated enrollment to plan for staffing, equipment and supplies.
Spitzer said, "We are pleased to see that even more students than expected are taking advantage of the educational opportunities afforded by the tuition agreement."
On opening day, 147 students from Ripley were enrolled at Chautauqua Lake.
"As in any public school, enrollment is constantly in flux throughout the school year, as families move in and out of each district," he added.
Lidell said, "Depending on last year's class sizes, we added sections of certain required courses. For example, we added one section each in seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts, math, social studies and science. In grades 9-12, we have added sections where needed across all secondary school departments."
He also said that having more students "enabled us to offer several new local electives and distance learning classes including Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language."
He noted that many college credit bearing and advanced placement courses were continued that might otherwise have been canceled.
The email stated that during the planning process, district officials estimated that an additional 4.5 full time equivalent teachers would be needed to meet additional instructional needs.
At this time, according to Spitzer, the district has added 4.4 full time equivalent teachers. Staffing costs were estimated in advance as part of the five-year tuition agreement.
Due in part to the tuition arrangement, all athletic and co-curricular opportunities were preserved for all students as they existed last year at Chautauqua Lake.
"We are excited to report that the transition plan was very helpful in ensuring a successful opening to this school year. It has been honor to open the doors of our secondary school to one of our area school districts, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the success of all our students," Liddell concluded.
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