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School's back in Pa., W.Va.

Berkeley Co. expecting 17,000 students

Berkeley Co. expecting 17,000 students

August 27, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - School officials are expecting student population increases as public schools across the Tri-State area open today.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon said he is expecting about 17,000 kids to show up at county schools this week seeking an education.

That is an increase of about 600 to 700 students over last year's population, which is about typical for the system, Arvon said.

Berkeley County makes up a lion's share of the state's student enrollment increase.

Berkeley County Schools accounts for about 65 percent of the state's enrollment increase and "if you put Jefferson and Morgan (counties) in there, it eats up just about all of it," Arvon said Sunday.

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Berkeley County has added 28 portable classrooms to help serve the county's growing student population, making a total of 104 portable classrooms in use in the system, Arvon said.

Regarding portable classrooms, Arvon said "that's what you have to do" to run the school system and Arvon added that he and other school officials are planning "an aggressive building program" to further prepare the school system for growth.

Arvon said he thinks raises that were given to teachers have helped with recruitment and retention of teachers. The school system has hired only 35 permanent substitute teachers to fill teaching positions this year, Arvon said.

Last year, about 80 permanent substitute teachers were hired to fill positions, Arvon said.

In Jefferson County, school officials are expecting to serve about 9,000 students, Jefferson County Board of Education member Scott Sudduth said.

"It's up again," Sudduth said, referring to the student population, although final numbers probably will not be available until after about a week of classes.

School officials in Jefferson County have been busy registering students, and maintenance crews have been working hard to get schools ready, Sudduth said.

"Everything won't be perfect," said Sudduth, adding that the school system is facing challenges with aging heating and air conditioning systems.

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