District 64 welcomes new year with changes
Patty Mayer, a Channels of Challenge and Spanish teacher at Roosevelt School in Park Ridge, organizes her classroom in preparation for the new school year. Students returned to class Aug. 21. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 22, 2012 1:53AM
PARK RIDGE — As they return to class this week, more students in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 will be riding a bus, spending their lunchtime at school and getting to know new faces in the principal’s office.
The new school year kicked off Aug. 21 with important changes for some groups of students and advice from Superintendent Philip Bender that all students “stay happy, healthy and active,” by getting plenty of exercise, sleep, and nutritious foods.
“I think if you do those things you’ll be a happier person, you’ll be a healthier person and you’ll certainly get the most out of school as you can get,” Bender said.
One change instituted over the summer will result in additional seventh- and eighth-graders at Lincoln and Emerson middle schools having the opportunity to ride the school bus free of charge, according to district officials.
The State Board of Education this summer approved the district’s application requesting that Lincoln and Emerson be designated as schools qualifying for state bus reimbursement due to so-called hazardous crossings that students encounter two and from school.
Though roughly 300 students will qualify, not all are expected to sign up for the bus service, Bender said.
“The ridership is not going up as much as the total number of kids that have it available,” Bender said, though he did not know the exact number of students this would include.
The school district will be reimbursed for “a portion” of the transportation cost by the state, but not the entire amount, the superintendent said.
District spokeswoman Bernadette Tramm said the district believes the state designation will make it safer for students by providing them with transportation to and from school. It could also reduce vehicle congestion at the middle schools, she added.
Another change this school year is the elimination of a lunch supervision fee and a new requirement that all elementary school students remain at school during lunch periods. In past years students had an option to go home for lunch or stay at school and pay for the lunch program.
The change will affect a small number of elementary school students, according to Tramm.
“In the past about 95 percent of the students were staying for lunch,” she said.
Students can still go home for lunch, but only if a parent comes to the school office and follows an established “check-out” procedure.
“They need to come to the building and check-out their child, as is the normal process,” Tramm said.
New school leaders are also greeting students as they start the year.
Lincoln Middle School, 200 S. Lincoln Ave., introduced Anthony Murray as its new principal; Washington School, 1500 W. Stewart Ave., welcomed both interim Principal Kathy Creely, who retired as Field School’s principal in 2011, and new Assistant Principal Jessica Hutchison; and Carpenter School, 300 N. Hamlin Ave., welcomed Principal Brett Balduf and Assistant Principal Kelly Tess. Tess will also serve as assistant principal of Franklin School, 2401 Manor Lane.
The new additions at Carpenter prompted a meet-and-greet to be held between families and the new administrators prior to the start of the new school year.
“One of my big goals as a first-year principal is to come in and get to know the community, the staff, the students and parents,” Balduf said, explaining that he hopes to “continue the success that Carpenter has had.”
Carpenter School’s grounds also underway some recent changes due to a million-dollar flood mitigation project that “will be resolving long-standing issues with drainage,” Tramm said.
The project resulted in a slight reconfiguration of the playgrounds as well.