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Lyons Central School District adds UPK opportunities amidst end-of-summer staffing uncertainty

SEPTEMBER 7, 2022 — The last week of summer vacation is typically anything but restful, with back-to-school shopping trips, final family activities, and adjusting schedules on everyone’s plates.

While school administrators and staff are very used to facing various challenges during the final week of summer, the Lyons Central School District team had to act particularly fast when they were notified on the evening of August 31 that some UPK students would be without a classroom this fall.

The students were to attend one of three UPK 4-year-old classrooms — two run by community partner Wayne County Action Program (CAP) Head Start, and one run by the Lyons Central School District. But this summer, the staffing issues that have plagued many businesses had an impact on Wayne CAP. This meant that their two 4-year-old classrooms would not open at the start of the school year, with families being confronted with an indefinite delayed opening. With two-thirds of Lyons 4-year-old UPK students suddenly without a class, LCSD administrators jumped into action.

“Staffing has been an issue across every industry this summer,” noted Lyons Central School District Superintendent Dr. Matthew Barr, “but luckily, we have the advantage of being able to tap into our educational network to immediately staff these new-to-us UPK classrooms.”

So that’s just what they did.

Upon hearing the news, Dr. Barr and his administrative team were able to allocate funds to cover the additional classroom costs.

“Because the two UPK classrooms were moving under our umbrella right away, within a day we were able to reroute grant funding to our system in order to fund and staff the UPK classrooms,” explained Laurie Palmisano, LCSD Director of Human Resources and Grant Operations.

“We wanted to make sure every Lyons UPK student had a classroom for the first day of school.”

With the help of Lyons Elementary main office staff Robin Cinelli and Principal Chris Taylor, the impacted UPK families were quickly notified that orientation would run as planned on Tuesday, September 6. Families were relieved to hear the news. One parent shared that without UPK, the cost of last-minute daycare would equal that of his mortgage payment, putting tremendous financial strain on his family’s monthly budget.

In addition to alleviating logistical concerns, housing the three classrooms under one district program will provide educational consistency for the district’s youngest learners.

“We are fortunate to have a continued partnership with Wayne CAP for our 3-year-old UPK program, and the parallel structure of these three 4-year-old classrooms will provide the advantage of an equitable start for Lyons UPK students,” noted Dr. Barr. “It’s a significant benefit to our students and our Lyons community.”