Hazel Park Schools to Expand Great Start Program, Restructure K-5s

Hazel Park Schools to Expand Great Start Program, Restructure K-5smoderntax

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 17, 2014)

Students at Webster Elementary in Hazel Park will be assigned to other schools in the fall so that the district can expand the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) which gives four-year-olds a pre-school learning and childcare experience.

The decision comes as Hazel Park Schools faces a $2.6 million budget deficit, and is in the process of working with the state to avoid an emergency financial manager.  Moving K-5 students out of Webster could save the schools $725,000, including the cost of seven teaching positions.

The Board approved the restructuring at their Jan. 20 meeting, with a letter going out to parents Jan. 22.  essentialThe documents reveal that students will be assigned to other schools and all pre-school programs will be moved to Webster.  Since October administration has researched which school would make the most sense for closure.

Doug Esler, Hazel Park Junior High School Principal, took on the task of visiting each elementary building and discussing re-purposing scenarios with principals and other administrators.

“After careful consideration and deliberation he and the other administrators ruled out re-purposing United Oaks Elementary School since this is a newly structured facility; Webb Elementary School since it is adjoined with Jardon School; and Hoover Elementary School since it was renovated during the last bond, sidebar01reader_supportand also is across the street from the newly renovated Hazel Park High School Athletic Complex,” stated the Jan. 20 School Board meeting minutes.

The District reportedly has received approval from the state to consolidate and expand the Great Start Readiness Program.  The program is designed for low-income students and is backed by funding from the state.

Currently the District has ninety-six children in the program. According to the minutes, Curriculum Director Mike Barlow “stated that it is almost a certainty that the District will be able to expand the program next school year and add an additional four classrooms.”

The number of students served could rise to 160, continuing under the supervision of Mary Pirkola.  This Toms Custom Painting Adcould increase revenue brought in through Webster, with $6,600 allotted per student and the fact that GSRP teachers are paid “considerably less” than Hazel Park Education Association teachers.

Kathryn Borowicz, Principal at Webster, sent a letter to parents of children in her school, stating “This was not an easy decision for anyone but I can assure you that you and your child will be made to feel welcome at each of the other three schools. You and your child will soon feel as much a part of that school community as you do at Webster.”  The letter said that informational meetings will be held for parents, as well as open houses for the students to attend to get to know their new buildings.

For more information on Hazel Park Schools visit http://www.hazelpark.k12.mi.us.

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