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Frequently Asked Questions regarding the fall 2020 opening of Shaker Middle School

New Start/End Times

Why is the middle school starting later and not the elementary schools?

This scenario is something that our transportation director researched. In order to put all of the elementary schools on the same bus run and have the middle school and high school bus runs not be impacted, the district would need to purchase an additional 15 buses, costing $1,867,500.This total does not include salary and benefits for drivers. We would also need to hire 15 new drivers at a time when there is already a regional, state, and nationwide shortage.

Given the later dismissal, will middle school students still have access to after school help and a late bus? 

Yes.

Incoming Students

What will the start and end time for the school day be?

In September 2019, we plan to notify families of the start and end times for the middle school. 

If I have a student entering 6th or 7th grade at the new middle school in the fall of 2020, when will I receive information about their transition?

We are all eagerly anticipating the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  Once this school year is well underway, we will begin sending information about transitional events and programs for students entering the middle school in the fall of 2020.  You will receive this information early winter of 2019.  

New Halls at the Middle School

How will the halls be structured at the new middle school?

Our new middle school will grow from four halls to five halls whose names celebrate the high peaks of the Adirondacks.  The names Algonquin, Haystack, Marcy, Skylight, and Wright represent the beauty and grandeur of New York state and symbolize how we can challenge ourselves in pursuit of our goals.  Each hall will contain 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. For the 20-21 school year, one of the halls will contain only 6th and 7th grade students. Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, all halls will have 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

My child is going to be a 7th grader for the 2019-20 school year. Will their halls be reconfigured for the 2019-20 school year?

No.  In fact, this is why one of the halls will initially have only 6th and 7th graders.  Our intention is to keep the students who will be starting 8th grade in the fall of 2020 together in their original hall assignments even though their hall name will change.

Will all of the teachers who are new to the building be placed in one hall?

No. We plan to reconfigure the teacher teams for the fall of 2020. Each of the five halls will have a mix of teachers. There will be teachers who were a part of the junior high school, those who have transferred from elementary schools, as well as new hires.

Is there a school store and will we have time to purchase hall specific gear?

Yes. We will continue to have a school store and will be developing new apparel. We intend to have this ready for students to purchase for the beginning of school.

Programming and Support

What programming options will be different for 6th graders when they start at the middle school? How will these program options be communicated to the parents and students?

We are excited for the range of opportunities that will be available to all of our middle school students.  Currently, we are working on outlining these options and plan to have that information shared with families in the early spring of 2020.

What types of special education programs do you offer?

We offer a full continuum of special education services that will likely not look dramatically different than the services provided at the elementary level. 

What type of social-emotional support do you provide the students?

In addition to a proactive mental health curriculum in Health Education and Family and Consumer Sciences, we have a team of mental health professionals including psychologists social workers, and school counselors who work collaboratively with students and families to respond to any student-specific needs. 

Will there be an after school program at the middle school for 6th graders?

No, we are not currently planning on hosting a CYC after school program at the middle school for sixth graders. However, if you are interested in an after school program for your sixth grade student, please contact  Nikki Caruso at the Colonie Youth Center at ncaruso@colonieyouthcenter.org so that she can gauge interest from the families in the district.

There will be a Colonie Youth Center program before school that will run from 7:30-8:45 a.m. but with the later dismissal time we are not planning on running a PM program. 

When will extra help be offered for students at the middle school?

Extra help will be provided to students at various times throughout the day. Details will be shared with families at a later date.

What extracurricular opportunities will be available to incoming sixth graders?

There will be a variety of extracurricular activities available to sixth grade students, including intramurals, sports, clubs, etc. All students will be made aware of these opportunities when they enter the middle school.

Transportation

Will my 6th grade student be riding the bus with high school students?

The middle school will have a bus run that is separate from the elementary and high school bus runs.  However, in order to provide the greatest number of options for after school activities and events for our students, we are currently looking at transportation options which may allow middle and high school students to ride together on a late bus run. 

How do the bus runs operate?

We currently do a high school/junior high school bus route, followed by an early elementary run, followed by a late elementary run. This would be the same next year, but with high school only first, then the two separate elementary routes, then the middle school route. The same process would take place in the afternoon.

What will the late bus schedule be? Who can ride on those buses?

There will be late buses available to students at the middle school and high school. The details of these routes are still being worked out and the district will share details with families once they are finalized. 

Why didn’t the district just add more buses and keep the schedules as is?

In order to keep the current bus schedule, it would require adding at least 30 buses at a cost of $3,735,000, just for the buses. This total does not include salary and benefits for drivers. We would need to hire 30 new drivers at a time when there is already a regional, state, and nationwide shortage.  

Will the district provide buses for before care, or will parents need to drop their kids off to school every morning?

No. There will not be a separate bus route in the morning to take kids from home to before school care, which is no different from what currently takes place across the district. All parents are expected to drive their students to before care and sign them in each morning they attend. This is done for security purposes.

Athletics

Since the middle school dismissal time is later, will the modified sports schedule be adjusted?

Yes. Modified practices will start after the middle school release time. The modified athletic contest start times may be slightly adjusted. Home contests may move from 4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and away contests from 4:15 p.m. to 4:30-4:45 p.m. These are the same times already in place for the other “late schools” in the league.

Will middle school students still be able to participate in high school sports?

Yes, middle school students will be able to participate in high school sports. The new Shaker Middle School schedule will not prevent any student from participating in interscholastic athletics. All seventh and eighth grade students who have been identified by a coach to try out for a High School level sport will still have that opportunity. Numerous other schools in the Suburban Council already follow the schedule we will be changing to and still include middle school students on high school teams. 

Will middle school students participating in high school sports have to go late to practice since the middle school will dismiss later than the high school?

Yes. Middle school athletes who participate on high school teams will potentially arrive late to practice, which is a common occurrence at most other Suburban Council schools. 

How will middle school students participating in high school sports make a 4 p.m. contest?

When necessary, students in the middle school will be excused early for athletic contests if they participate on a high school team.

Will the high school students wait for the middle school students to get out so they can practice together? 

In some cases high school practices may start later, but some sports will start practice before middle school dismissal. In those cases, middle school athletes will arrive to practice late with no penalty. Again, this is a common occurrence with most of our league counterparts who have a middle schools off campus and with a later start time.

What time will modified practices end?

Typically, modified practices will end anywhere from 5:30-6 p.m.

Other

How are the renovations at the junior high going?

The building project is on schedule, if not ahead of schedule. We eagerly anticipate opening the new middle school in September 2020 and welcoming our first group of sixth grade students!

More questions?

If you have more questions, please submit them via Google form. We will periodically update this page in response to your questions.