Union School District renovates buildings and mindset

Clarion News writer

Union school district has been working hard to prepare for students returning to classes this month.

“It’s been a busy summer,” said Superintendent John Kimmel.

The biggest change is the renovations happening at Union High School and Sligo Elementary.

The elementary school will have a new HVAC system and fire alarms as well as remodeled student and staff restrooms and some updates to the generator and electrical work.

Elementary students will even have air conditioning when they return to school.

The elementary school is also renovating the playground, which they are able to do through an Uccles Grant. Elementary school principal Thomas Minick is planning to ensure the safety of students while playing.

Sligo Elementary is implementing an Elementary Disciplinary Matrix. The school board approved a handbook for this, outlining the different disciplinary actions the school will take if a student misbehaves.

To engage the elementary students when they first arrive at school, each classroom will hold a morning meeting for students to share what is happening in their lives and connect with their fellow students.

For the coming school year, grades K-5 will be required to clear their backpack if the metal detector is triggered. This rule used to be for grades 6-12, but now it is for all students.

The staff ask that students and parents be mindful of this new rule and to not pack anything that will trigger the metal detector.

Union High School will return in the fall to a new boiler system, which will include smaller and more efficient equipment.

A school-wide positive behavior intervention support system, which the elementary school implemented last year, will be implemented this year at the high school.

This system focuses on positive and desirable behavior and rewards it.

“Often that [positive behavior] is neglected,” Kimmel said.

The school will still take disciplinary action with negative behavior, but are optimistic about the positive behavior support system.

Union High School will also implement a multi-tiered system of support, or MTSS, for grades 6-8.

The high school recently purchased 45 new desktop computers. The staff is excited to get them installed and running.

“We depend so much on technology that when it doesn’t work, it has a big effect,” Kimmel said.

Union school district is also making changes to some of their sports.

They will co-op with Redbank Valley High School for soccer and wrestling, and will co-op with A-C Valley for softball, baseball and track.

“This will allow more of an opportunity for students to participate,” Kimmel said.

Union also transitioned to a new student management information system called Focus. Students and parents will be able to access grades and other resources using the new student portal.

Some new faces will be introduced at Union High School and Sligo Elementary this year.

Last year’s high school principal is moving into a psychologist position for the school.

“It’s easier to find a new principal than a new psychologist,” Kimmel said.

The new principal is Elena Steidinger, who was the special education teacher last year.

“I’m excited to really get to know all of the students,” Steidinger said.

She is also excited for students to return to a newly renovated school.

Other new staff are Alan Ochs, the sixth grade math teacher, Tammy Craig, the new kindergarten aide, Brianna Pennington, the new high school biology teacher and Kaci Rankin, the new elementary secretary.

“I’m excited to see the kids,” Rankin said.

“The first day is always nerve-racking, but I’m excited to be a smiling face for them.”

Additionally, Lisa Hummel, the band director, is taking on another role as the Dean of Students.

The school board created the role of Dean of Students for grades 6-12. The focus in this role is discipline and behavior.

With all the changes to Union High School and Sligo Elementary, the administration is excited to welcome students back when the new semester begins.

“We’re anxious to get started,” Kimmel said.

Union’s ‘back to school’ plan

Union School District has summarized its updated plans to start the 2022-23 school year and it is as follows:

Union School District students will return to classes on Wednesday, Aug.24.

The high school has scheduled an Open House from 1:30 to 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at the high school. Teachers will be available in their rooms. Students and their families will be able to come in during that time to tour the building, talk to teachers, and get lockers ready for the first day of school. Middle school students will be able to pick up their schedules in the main office.

There will be a sixth-grade parent and student orientation held on Aug. 23, an informational letter will be mailed to parents. The sixth-grade teachers will be contacting parents to schedule them for a group orientation. The following three times will be offered: 1, 2 or 3 p.m.

Union School District will, once again, follow all federal and state mandates related to COVID. USD will also follow guidance from the Department of Health as is practical and does not negatively impact the quality of education we are able to provide our students.

Visit www.unionsd.net for the latest information.


For more local news, visit TheClarionNews.com.