Superintendent Jonathan Lev said the school is receiving one of only six awards presented for healthy communities across the state.
Correction: The kindergarten class of 24 children will be split into two classes of 16 and eight. One of the numbers was incorrect and has been fixed.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Clarksburg School is being honored as one of only six in the state to receive a healthy community award.
The Peter R. Lee Healthy Communities Award, which will be presented during a schoolwide assembly, is in recognition of the school's efforts in supporting wellness and healthy lifestyles.
"I feel very honored we were selected to be for one of those six awards from state," said Superintendent Jonathan Lev at Thursday's School Committee meeting. The award, he said, was because of "our after-school program, and what we're doing in the cafeteria and the paths and really just trying to promote helthy living."
The school is active in the state's Mass in Motion initiative with local coordinator Amanda Chilson and has been working with Amanda L'Etoile, trails and outreach coordinator for Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
L'Etoile has been facilitating the development of trails around the school for walking and environmental instruction, a role she will continue, said Reardon. "She wants to become a permanent partner with Clarksburg School."
The Peter R. Lee awards are named the late director of the Massachusetts Partnership for Healthy Communities at Health Resources in Acton. Previously the Community Transformation Awards, they were renamed for Lee after his death Dec. 25, 2012. According to a letter to the school from MPH Southeast Regional Director Ron O'Connor, Lee "personified the principles of Healthy Communities in his professional and personal life."
"This is a collaboration between town and school," said Reardon, adding the school "met seven out of eight points [of the award criteria] so we're really excited by it."
In other business, the Reardon and Lev explained the reasoning for splitting the kindergarten into two classes, one with 16 students and one of eight.
Lev said it was unclear until school started exactly how many children would be enrolled. Initially there was going to be 22 if all the children enrolled; then in August, two more children enrolled. Teacher Cathy Howe and parents soon raised concerns about how the large class was working.
It was determined to split the class and hire another teacher, and likely a part-time aide, with school choice funds.
Lev said the class couldn't simply be split in half. "We don't have the room and the classroom we have isn't large enough," he said. Even with the small size, "there are parts of the day we think it's important to have a second person."
That person could also help out in other classes in the primary wing. The two classes would also join for certain functions, such as art class and cafeteria.
The teaching job as been posted and a number of qualified candidates have applied, he said, who will be screened by a committee including the principal, Howe, a kindergarten parent and others.
The school district has also contracted Guntlow & Associates to complete a feasibility study by December on the preschool proposed at Town Hall. Lev expected to go to next town meeting for funding and open the preschool by fall.
Parents also raised concerns over the implementation of the state-mandated breakfast program that will start Oct. 28 because of the amount of time some children will be on the buses.
Principal Linda Reardon said parents will be getting letters explaining the bus route changes and the school breakfast program.
Reardon said the buses should be picking up the children at least 5 minutes earlier to get to school by 8:15. Children taking breakfast will have about 15 minutes for a "grab and go" breakfast before going to class. Kindergarteners will be given breakfast in their classrooms at 9 a.m., about snack time, so children not having breakfast can eat whatever snack they normally bring.
But children who don't take breakfast will have to wait on the buses an extra 5 to 10 minutes before they can go into the school because the teachers are not contracted to be in their classrooms until 8:30.
"They've been on the bus for 10 minutes and it's been that way for many years," said Lev, adding there is some discussion on how the aides might used during this time. Older children will likely not have a problem spending extra time with friends on the bus, he said. but it may be difficult for the youngest.
Reardon said the school was able to get a waiver to delay implementation of the breakfast program as it tried to work out the logistics. Parents will be getting letters explaining the details, she said.
"It's not a question of whether we can do it, we have to do it," she said. "There is no option."