If “minor bumps in the road” were the only issues students and faculty faced moving from summer vacation to the start of the school year last week, then superintendents and administrators in Greene County’s five school districts deserve congratulatory pats on the back.
With ongoing major construction projects at two schools – West Greene and Carmichaels – we expected there would be disruptions greeting the students when the first buses pulled in, especially at Carmichaels, which is completing a significant renovation of the junior high school this year.
One lesson learned: Don’t underestimate the resiliency and adaptability of students in junior or senior high school.
First-year Carmichaels Area Superintendent John Menhart said it was a “great first day for everybody.” Menhart explained the mobile classrooms brought into the district while the junior high school is under renovation are working well.
He credited all of the local governmental agencies within the district for working with them to ensure everything was in place for the start of the school year.
“They didn’t cut us any slack,” Menhart added. “But all of the local agencies were really helpful in getting us prepared for the start of the school year.”
Meanwhile, a new elementary school is under construction next to West Greene High School.
The district’s superintendent, Thelma Szarell, said the elementary school being constructed in the district is near completion, but she does not anticipate it being ready until the 2015-16 school year. But there is a remote possibility, she explained, it will be completed at the end of December at the earliest.
If that happens, the school board could decide to make the move after returning from Christmas break.
We would hope the district decides to wait until the 2015-16 school year to bring the students in from Springhill-Freeport and Graysville, especially since Szarell said she heard officials in other districts say mid-year moves they undertook were among the worst decisions they ever made.
Bricks and mortar aside, the first day of school and the first full week of classes came and went in Greene without incident.
Unlike news reports coming out of Pittsburgh detailing transportation nightmares for some students and parents, we know of no incidents where a Greene County student has not been picked up at the proper location, taken to the proper school and returned safely at the end of the day to the proper drop-off site.
Obviously, it is early in the school year and we want to remain optimistic it will be as uneventful as the first days.
School officials watch the news on television and read newspapers, so they know how one event can turn a school building into a crime scene.
Security for students in Washington and Greene counties, as well as for students in every school in the state and country, is paramount.
We hope, and expect, that school officials have put as much thought and effort into providing for the safety of their students as they have in making sure temporary modular classroom space is adequate, the school is air-conditioned and the cafeteria food is palatable.