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Changes in store for Kannapolis schools

By Rebecca Rider


KANNAPOLIS — August 2017 will see several changes in Kannapolis City Schools. The system is due to roll out three brand new magnet programs, will shift its grade configuration, adjust attendance zones and may change bell times.

Kannapolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Chip Buckwell unveiled the changes at the district’s first parent information meeting for the magnet program Monday night.

Currently, Kannapolis City Schools has kindergarten through fourth grade elementary schools with fifth- and sixth-graders attending an intermediate school and seventh- and eighth-graders attending middle school.

But starting in the 2017-18 school year, that will change. The district will shift to the more common K-5 elementary school, with an expanded middle school serving grades six through eight. The current Kannapolis Intermediate School building will be dubbed the G. W. Carver Elementary School and will become one of the district’s first magnet schools — A+ Arts Academy.

“We’re excited about this opportunity,” Buckwell said, “It’s going to be something brand new for KCS.”

But school officials made it clear that the program will not be a school of the arts. Rather, art will be interwoven into the curriculum and used to teach regular curriculum.

“They’re going to get instruction on the same subjects, with the same goals, using different tools . . .” Dr. Kelly Burgess, assistant superintendent, said.

Instead of traditional classroom instruction, teachers at A+ Arts might use music or drawing to teach a concept.

The inclusion of a new school will also require some shuffling of attendance zones, with G.W. Carver pulling students from all current areas. But the final perimeter is flexible, Buckwell said.

Two more programs, a Spanish immersion program, known as Splash, and a global studies program, will open at Fred L. Wilson elementary school. The immersion program — where students will have class in English one day and Spanish the next — will only be available to kindergarteners the first year. The grade levels will stack as the first cohort moves through school. The arts program and global studies, where students will spend each grade level focusing on a different area of the world, will be school-wide.

Buckwell said the move came from a desire to bolster arts and foreign language programs for lower grades after multiple funding cuts from the state.

“We are hopefully crawling our way back out of that,” he said.

All programs are available to students who fall within the attendance zones of the two schools. Those who live outside the attendance zones and wish to attend may apply. If the number of applications exceeds the number of available seats, a lottery will be held.

If the programs are successful, Buckwell said, the district would like to start up other magnet programs.

But the programs come with other changes. Currently, system administration is considering changing bell times across the district — though Buckwell said that the idea has yet to be formally presented to the Kannapolis City Schools Board of Education. Proposed new bell times were: 8:45 a.m. to 3:47 p.m. for elementary, 7:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. for middle school and 8 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. for high school.

Administration is proposing the shift in hopes to optimize instructional time and bus use and provide transportation to magnet programs. In addition, all pre-k programs will be moved to Woodrow Wilson Elementary.

“It’s a big endeavor,” Buckwell said.

After the presentation, attending parents called out rapid-fire questions concerned with transportation, attendance and asking for clarification. Many asked for more concrete answers to the possibility of different start times, which Buckwell said administration was still just looking into.

Many parents expressed disappointment that the language immersion program would only be available to kindergarteners next year. Maria Hall, a teacher with Kannapolis City Schools and a parent, said her daughter, a second-grader, missed the boat.

“Given the opportunity, I would have signed her up for the Splash program in a heartbeat,” she said.

Her sister, Christine Hall, said that the programs sounded great, but didn’t think it was worth it to move her son, who will be a fourth-grader next year, to a different school.

“I probably wouldn’t move him — just because it’s only two years,” she said.

But they were both optimistic about what the programs meant for the district — particularly the Spanish immersion program.

“They’re going to have to carry it through to the upper levels,” Christine said, “Which I think is fantastic.

Robin Carver came with daughter, Kamryn, to satisfy her curiosity. While the bell times concerned many parents, Carver said she wasn’t worried, and a lot could still change. But she, too, is looking forward to the future.

“I’m curious to see how it all works out,” she said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.



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