As the 2013-14 school year begins Monday for the Williamsport Area School District, students, teachers and administrators won't only need to adjust to new classes and study material, but a new grade configuration.
Instead of three levels of schools, there will be four. Gone will be the elementary schools for grades kindergarden through five. Sixth-graders will no longer be considered middle school students.
Instead, district students will begin their education in primary schools, advance to intermediate schools, and from there move up the traditional middle school-high school route.
Cochran, Hepburn-Lycoming, Jackson and Stevens primary schools will serve students in kindergarten through third grade.
Curtin and Lycoming Valley intermediate schools will serve youngsters in grades four through six.
The new Williamsport Area Middle School will serve grades seven and eight; and the high school will be four grades nine through 12.
With staff and materials moving to new buildings in keeping with the changes, along with two schools closing a few months ago, there was a lot to do over the summer, said Dr. Don Adams, district superintendent.
"The summer has gone exceptionally well," he said. "There was a lot of work that needed to be accomplished to open school."
Teachers began packing equipment and materials into boxes before the end of the school year in June, he said. Once the year did end, there was a process in place to make the move as easy as possible, while ensuring each box was taken to the proper building and room.
"Every box was coded with a color label, which represented what school they were going to," he said, adding that it also noted which room it belonged in.
To help make the transition to the new grade configuration and buildings smooth, Adams said that there will be extra staff at each building for the first few days to help guide students and help with any parent concerns.
"We want to make sure these concerns are met," Adams said.
He added that this is especially true with the middle school as "everything is new."
And although there are things that are yet to be completed, work only will be done when students are not in the school.
Besides a few "isolated" occasions, the same will be done at the high school. But any work done during the school day would be performed in sections of the building not occupied by students and staff, Adams said.
"It has been a total team effort" to get ready for the new school year, Adams said, and there is a feeling of excitement around the district.
Staff, city officials and parents have had "positive attitudes" throughout the transitional process, he said.