With plenty to do last Thursday, Kelly Beard knew there was one thing missing.
“In late August, it sure gets lonely here without the kids,” said the May Street Elementary principal as he dealt with numerous back-to-school needs.
“The kids will be here Tuesday, and that’s what this is all about,” Beard said.
May Street students and parents will see two major physical changes at the school, one inside and one outside.
They might have already noticed the outside one — a privately funded walking-running track built this summer around the playground (also known as Willard Schilling Field, in honor of a former principal).
The entire project was paid for by a $4,800 grant from Lowes Toolbox for Education and a matching grant from May Street Parent Teacher Organization.
Inside, a new English Language Learners classroom will be in use under the gymnasium, in a space that formerly could not be used as a classroom because of egress issues. But a wall was removed and a doorway relocated, to meet safety code for instructional space, according to Beard.
The ELL space is part of a once-labyrinthine series of small rooms used as storage, a health room, reading rooms and offices. Originally the space was the locker and shower area in the building’s former days as May Street Junior High School.
Just across the hall, Beard and his staff crammed between Tuesday and Friday to create a room for the school’s newest kindergarten classroom — its fourth. A substitute teacher will be on hand and the search process is on for the permanent hire. For now, the brightly lit room just off the playground has newly cleaned carpet and is fully equipped with brightly colored learning supplies.
In a letter to May Street parents, Beard wrote, “We anticipated a large incoming group of kindergarten students. Last spring we began organizing to provide additional support in the first weeks of school and it was decided in late August to add a fourth section of kindergarten.
“This will allow for kindergarten class sizes to be approximately 24 students per class. The kindergarten team will work collaboratively to provide and exceptional year for our youngest students.”
Beard said, “The custodial staff has been working hard all summer and the teachers and support staff have been in for the last two weeks preparing for the return of our students.”
Back outside, in addition to the new track, more playground equipment will be installed this year courtesy of the PTO, and the equipment removed during the track project will be reinstalled.