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Good starts reported in Eastern Panhandle schools

August 27, 2008|From Staff reports

The first day of the 2008-09 school year for an estimated 17,000 Berkeley County public school students Tuesday went well, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II reported Tuesday.

"It was an excellent day," Arvon said.

Arvon said additional teachers might need to be hired in response to enrollment growth at certain schools, but felt that the administrators had planned well for a projected increase of 300 to 400 students.

The 17,000-student enrollment estimate would put more distance between a 1998 study by The Education Alliance based in Charleston, W.Va., that projected Berkeley County Schools would have 14,614 students by 2010.

"They were off just a few students," Arvon said when reminded of the report "Tomorrows Teachers, The Future Supply and Demand for West Virginia Teachers: 1998-2010."

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Jefferson County's student enrollment was predicted in the study to grow by more than 1,000 students to reach 7,935 pupils and Morgan County was projected to add less than 100.

"If we could count our 4-year-olds (in pre-kindergarten), we would have over 18,000," Arvon said.

Arvon said he spent a lot of time monitoring the transportation department's radio communications after classes were dismissed and did not have any serious problems to report.

He attributed the relatively smooth first day to an "excellent working relationship" among school district staff.

- Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Susan Wall said operations went well at other schools Tuesday, including at Wildwood Middle School, a facility next to Jefferson High that was the county's Ninth Grade Center.

On Tuesday, the county's ninth-graders were blended into the two high schools and the Ninth Grade Center became a middle school.

- In Morgan County, the first day of school for students and staff went well, said Joan Willard, assistant superintendent of Morgan County Schools.

The morning bus pickups were on schedule Tuesday morning and no problems occurred in the afternoon drop offs.

The schools' open house meetings had a good turnout, she said, and parents and students knew where and what time the bus was to arrive, Willard said.

"A few things might have to be tweaked, as one might assume," she said.

During the school day, Willard and schools' superintendent David Banks checked in at all eight Morgan County schools on Tuesday to find out how the day went, she said.

George Ward, principal of Berkeley Springs High School, said the first day went smoothly.

He said a couple of the school buses arrived a little later than planned and that will have to be worked out, but no problems occurred.

"I was very pleased," he said. "The staff was well prepared and the students were well behaved."

Out of the 740 high school students enrolled at the school, about 478 of them purchased lunch at the cafeteria on Tuesday, he said.

Gene Brock, Warm Spring Middle School principal, said it was a "good day" for the first day of school there. He said all the students were met by class groups in the gym and expectations and goals were established.

He said after-school programs were highlighted, and the students were told what they could expect from the school.

About 600 students are enrolled at the middle school, Brock said.

Willard said the two middle school teaching positions have been filled and the teachers began today.

She said the high school has two outstanding full-time positions that need to be filled. The positions for a reading specialist/English teacher and a Math teacher for grades nine through 12 will be advertised.

"Everybody arrived safely and was delivered home safely; that is the most important thing," Willard said.

Staff writers Dave McMillion, Trish Rudder and Matthew Umstead contributed to this story.

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