Madison students adjust to new buildings

SANDUSKY In a city with lots of rental properties, Sandusky Schools already has a transient student
May 24, 2010



In a city with lots of rental properties, Sandusky Schools already has a transient student population.

There are even more children changing buildings this summer, thanks to the closure of Madison Elementary in June. The school's 152 students are being reshuffled to the district's five other elementary buildings.

Mills Elementary will take in the most Madison students, while far-flung Ontario will receive the fewest.

For parents, the change means figuring out how to get the kids to and from school; for students, meeting new people and finding the bathroom.

"They're losing their friends that they've made," Linda Clark said of her second-graders, Gabby and Tommy. "They'll have to make all new friends and adjust to a new routine, different teachers, different building."

Assistant superintendent Tom Tucker said he worked with transportation supervisor Ted Peters and other officials to draw new boundaries through the former Madison zone, portioning it among Venice Heights, Mills and Osborne.

The students were assigned to buildings based mainly on where they live and where older siblings go -- Madison did not have fifth or sixth grade -- with consideration for special programs that a student might need.

Tucker said a handful of parents requested changes, in many cases because siblings with different last names were assigned to different buildings.

Madison drew students from a compact area, and many walked. The district reorganization will put some on a bus for the first time.

Fourth grader Denaryon Swain often walked to school but now will pick up the bus at Central Park and ride it to Venice Heights Elementary.

At least, that's where mother Damita Collins thinks her son will go. She received a letter at the end of the school year saying that Denaryon was bound for Osborne, but another letter sent July 31 changed that to Venice Heights.

Collins said another family named Swain lived in her Decatur Street house before she moved in last year, and district employees thought Denaryon was related to them.

"The other Swain kids that lived here before us, they're going to Venice, but I guess they never got a change of address," Collins said.

She said Denaryon was excited about going to Osborne with some boys he played baseball with, but he also went to Venice Heights through second grade, so he knows children there, too.

Collins said she liked having Denaryon go to school so close to home last year.

"I was glad that he had a school really close, right around the corner," she said. "And so for it close all of a sudden, it was kind of devastating."

Clark's Stone Street home is midway between Madison and Osborne, where her twins will go, and she'll still drive them every day. But she said she's disappointed because her children loved the teachers and other employees at Madison.

She's also worried about the time it will take her kids to adjust, especially Tommy.

"It took him a very long time to actually make friends, and then to be separated, I think it's going to be difficult for him," Clark said.

One friend Tommy will miss in particular is Donovan Clark, who was initially assigned to Madison.

Mother Misty Barnum, however, said she received a letter last week saying Donovan, a second-grader, would attend Mills instead. She called the Board of Education office to find out why but hasn't received an answer.

"He's just disappointed because he has make new friends and start all over again," Barnum said. "I was pretty upset about it, too. I went to that school when I was growing up, so all my memories were there, too."

Barnum, who lives on Decatur Street, isn't concerned about getting Donovan to and from school. What she worries about is whether her son will still receive a top-notch education.

Having a "meet-and-greet" with teachers and administrators at the new building would help reassure her, she said.

"I just wish they would have been a little bit more communicative with everyone," Barnum said.

Number of Madison students assigned to other schools

Hancock - 18

Mills - 44

Ontario - 14

Osborne - 38

Venice Heights - 38