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School district sees changes for new year

August 15, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

The Austintown School District will be seeing a lot of changes with the start of the school year next Tuesday. The changes start at the top as several administrative positions will have new faces.

The immediate changes involve moving building principals keeping in mind the two new school buildings. Tim Kelty, former principal at Woodside Elementary, will be moved to Sophomore Principal at Fitch. He will be replacing Mara Banfield, who resigned due to a job change. Her resignation set off a round of movement within the district.

Replacing Kelty at Woodside will be Dennis Rice, former principal at Frank Ohl.

Bethany Batdorff, former assistant principal at Frank Ohl will move up to fill Rice's position for the 2012-13 school year, and she will become the principal of the new elementary building when it opens in the fall of 2013. Jeff Swavel will move from grade 5 language arts teacher to assistant principal at Frank Ohl immediately.

"This was all done to replace Banfield and with consideration for our two new buildings," said Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca.

He said the decision to move Rice to Woodside and keep Tony Russo as principal of Lynn Kirk was because both are retire-rehires who will not be returning in 2013-14 school year. Since those elementary school buildings will combine in the new building, it made sense to place the veteran principals in one of the schools that will close at the end of next school year.

Also putting in one more year will be the district's director of curriculum Dan Bokesh. He plans to retire at the end of the upcoming school year and will be replaced by David Mullane.

The Board of Education has also selected the administrative personnel for the 2013-14 school year, that includes Angel Owens. She will take on the role of assistant principal at the new third- through fifth-grade building in 2013.

On the elementary level, the kindergarten through second grade building's new principal will be Tom Lenton, current principal at Lloyd Elementary. Assisting him will be Sheila Palumbo, Watson's fifth principal and the first woman the school has had in the top position.

Joining Lenton and Palumbo in 2013-14 will be a second assistant principal in Kate Gavalier. She presently works at the Mahoning County Education Service Center, but has been hired already for next school year.

"Our staff is working with academic coaches to begin making the necessary changes for the Common Core Curriculum in anticipation of being fully implemented for the 2013-14 school year," Colaluca said. "We will continue to incorporate new technology in all classrooms using electronic devices."

He said the goal is to get all the classrooms moved into the future by allowing the hand-held devices.

"Right now we are piloting the hand-held devices and learning how to incorporate them into daily instruction," Colaluca said. "In the near future we will move to a bring-your-own system."

He said the move goes along with state mandates. One of those involve all Ohio schools to have the state assessment tests done on handheld devices by the 2014-15 school year.

One new piece of construction that was recently finished is a new sidewalk on Lloyd Loop. Those attending Fitch sporting events can now park at the elementary school and walk straight to the stadium. Colaluca said Fitch will continue to offer shuttle service for all the home football games as it did last year. The service will run from 6 to 10:30 p.m. with pick-up and drop-off at the west lot of Super K-Mart at the corner of Raccoon Road and Mahoning Avenue. He said in collaboration with the Austintown Police and Fire Departments there is no parking in the fire lanes or on sidewalks throughout the campus.

Colaluca said presently the PTA councils from the elementary schools are working on making a smooth transition when they combine at the end of the upcoming school year.

Both new buildings are right on schedule as far as construction goes. The timeline calls for the demolition of Frank Ohl and Watson during the summer of 2013 and the two new buildings will then be open for business.

"Thanks to continued dedication and hard work by our local work force, progress on our new K-2 and 3-5 buildings continues to keep the construction timeline on track," Colaluca said. "Both new school buildings will be open in August 2013."



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