Middle school development explored

This month, the initial process of creating Oneonta Middle School could begin. This hot topic, among three others, is on the discussion table for the Oneonta board members.

Oneonta Supt. Scott Coefield says beginning a middle school at Oneonta has many advantages including additional funding for administration as well as continuing their one-to-one technology initiative.

“There are compliance issues with state and federal guidelines we are trying to work through because this process is being done in such a small time frame,” Coefield said. “If we are going to do this, we want to do it right.”

However, Coefield says he and the board are not giving up on implementing technology into the Oneonta classrooms since the failure of the 5-mill tax increase referendum held in January.

Coefield and the board will be faced with the decision to take money from the school’s reserve at their May 13 meeting to fund laptops for grades 6 – 8, the possible middle school, meaning this solution will fund only a small part of their initial plan.

“The middle school would be the starting point for the one-to-one initiative,” he said. “Our hope is that it would be successful, so if we try the referendum again, the public would understand it better.”

The program would only be for the next school year, but Coefield says they would look to continue the program, if the funding is available. If the funding is not available, Coefield says the laptops will not go to waste. Instead, they will be placed throughout the school and put to good use.

Another positive for creating the middle school, according to Coefield, is this will allow middle school students to not get lost in the shuffle by creating a smaller school with administrative oversight.

“We are going to meet with teachers to go over the issues they see with this plan, and we are working on funding,” Coefield said. “We want to make sure this is doable and possibly doable next year.”

The next of the four main discussion areas is dealing with the problematic traffic flow at the school. Coefield has met with an architect to discuss redirecting traffic to alleviate vehicle congestion in front of the school. The board has met and is waiting for bids to consider.

The last point for the board to consider is enclosing the back of the school where students go to the band room. Coefield says this is a safety concern, and they are now accepting bids to enclose that area into a small hallway.

Coefield says the type of hallway is still under consideration whether that means completely enclosing the area with concrete, using a type of fencing, or some other solution. Coefield says these decision rests on the bidding process.

A main current concern, Coefield says, is waiting for the state to pass the school budget. That will allow the board to know what funds they have and where those could be allocated. According to Coefield, they will know their budget limits by their next board meeting which is scheduled for May 13 at 5:30 p.m.