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Many Pa. students head back to classrooms today

August 28, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Her new pink backpack still rested on one shoulder as the little blonde and her mother left the back-to-school section of shopping at Waynesboro's Wal-Mart and headed into housewares Saturday evening.

Starting today and lasting 179 more days, backpacks will become a common fixture for that girl and thousands of other youngsters headed to schools in Pennsylvania.

All six public school districts in Franklin County launch their 2006-07 year today, while the three in Fulton County have staggered their starts throughout the week. Southern Fulton School District starts Tuesday, Central Fulton School District starts Wednesday and Forbes Road School District also starts Wednesday under the direction of new superintendent Merrill Arnold.

Joseph Padasak begins his first full academic year as superintendent of Chambersburg Area School District, where slightly fewer than 8,000 students are expected to start the year. Five hundred district students in a new program will attend the Franklin County Career and Technology Center for both vocational and academic classes.

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Construction work at Hamilton Heights Elementary School doesn't interfere with classrooms, School Board President Craig Musser said. A playground might be closed temporarily at Fayetteville Elementary School, and the installation of energy-saving systems at Grandview Elementary School is finishing up, he said.

"None of our locations will be affected by construction," Musser said.

Waynesboro Area Senior High School also is undergoing renovations and expansion. Students will be walking on bare floors, but dry mopping has increased to minimize dust, Superintendent Barry Dallara said.

The Waynesboro district is anticipating slightly less than 4,200 children today and has 17 new teachers, he said.

Of the 20 new teachers at Greencastle-Antrim School District, six of those are new positions, Superintendent P. Duff Rearick said. He expects 3,000 children to start the school year today.

Rearick leaves the district in March, and Tuscarora School District Superintendent Thomas Stapleford leaves his post in January.

That district has 2,795 students registered opposed to the 2,758 that finished the 2005-06 year, Curriculum Director Bonnie Sponseller said.

"We actually are still enrolling kids," she said Friday.

The Tuscarora School District will use an online server to allow students to access grades and homework assignments anytime. It comes with a new acceptable use policy, Sponseller said.

"Parents will be able to access that as well," she said, noting parental access won't initially be available.

The Tuscarora School District has 30 to 35 new teachers. Four came through new positions created by an all-day kindergarten program, Sponseller said.

"We had like 17 new teachers at the high school alone," she said.

Fannett-Metal School District starts Monday, with district officials continuing to use data to drive instructional programs, High School Principal Brad Ocker said.

Forbes Road School District is also looking at its data in an attempt to fix programs that aren't working, High School Principal James Heroux said.

"We're disappointed with our state tests," Heroux said. The Forbes Road School District will enroll about 500 students, he said.

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