Pa. schools ready for new year

August 28, 2010|By DANA BROWN and JENNIFER FITCH
  • Nicole Ernst affixes name tags to students' cubbyholes Friday in her first-grade classroom at Fayetteville Elementary School.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- For many schoolchildren in Franklin County, Monday is the day they've been awaiting with either dread or excitement.

Classes start Monday morning for thousands of students enrolled in the county's public schools.

"We are ready. We are very excited for students to come," said Catherine Dusman, assistant superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District.

In the Waynesboro Area School District, contractors were busy last week finishing up heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at Fairview and Summitview elementary schools as well as Waynesboro Area Middle School.

"Things should be ready to go for the beginning of the school year," Superintendent James Robertson said.

Some lighting fixtures will be retrofitted in the evenings in the next few weeks, he said.

Last week, 4,217 students were enrolled for classes in Waynesboro's six schools.

Assistant Superintendent Evan Williams said DIBELS assessments will be replaced in the elementary schools with AIMSweb tests for reading, math and language arts. The tests are used to identify areas in which children need extra help.


"We're also going to be doing a couple different things with math in the middle school," Williams said.

Chambersburg Area School District registered a dozen students on last Wednesday alone. Dusman said overall elementary enrollment was 4,149, compared to 4,094 just before the 2009-10 academic year started.

"Our kindergarten class last year was 631," she said. "We're at 699."

Although the district has 13 elementary schools, Dusman said it can be difficult to keep class sizes at their targets when managing last-minute registrations. The district covers 250 square miles, and school officials want to minimize the distance children travel to school, she said.

Total enrollment for all grades is expected to be between 8,100 and 8,200, Dusman said.

Construction continues at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, where the new wing is open. Teachers ate in the new food court last week.

Dusman said a recently approved English language arts curriculum will allow concepts to be taught at the same time in each elementary school. Teachers will be given leeway to infuse their creativity into lessons, but students would be at roughly the same place in their learning as their new classmates if they transferred.

Angela Pollock has been named principal for Andrew Buchanan and New Franklin elementary schools. Thomas VanArsdale will be assistant principal at J. Frank Faust Junior High School, and Mark Long will serve as Chambersburg's principal at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

The school board also made changes among top administrators, naming Sylvia Rockwood human resources director and Billy Hodge an assistant superintendent.


C. Gregory Hoover, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, said all preparations have been made for the start of the school year.

"Like I always say, ready or not, here they come," he said.

Hoover said close to 3,000 students are enrolled in the district's four schools.

The district has experienced a decline in elementary enrollment, but is seeing growth in secondary school enrollment, Hoover said.

There are six new teachers in the district, but no new principals, Hoover said.

The new teachers are Joyce Gerstenlauer, middle school music; Brian Tressler, high school social studies; Ed Hollan, middle school science; Timothy Hill, high school technical education; and Jennifer Steck and Heidi Cummings, primary school teachers.


Students in the Tuscarora School District attending James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa., will see significant changes when they return to school.

The nearly 40-year-old facility underwent a $17 million renovation, much of which took place over the summer break. Nearly every inch of the 175,000-square-foot building was renovated, updated or got a face-lift.

Rodney Benedick, principal of James Buchanan High School, said that while there are a few projects left to be completed, the building and the staff are ready to go.

"Overall, we're in much better shape than we were in last June," Benedick said.

Rebecca Erb, superintendent of the Tuscarora School District, said there are three new administrators taking positions within the district.

James Carbaugh was named principal of James Buchanan Middle School principal. He formerly was assistant principal at the high school. Ryan Kaczmark was named assistant principal at James Buchanan Middle School, and Lura Hanks was named principal of Mercersburg Elementary School.

About 2,600 students are enrolled in the Tuscarora School District.

Central Fulton

Central Fulton School District in the McConnellsburg, Pa., area started school last Wednesday.

Dwayne D. Northcraft, who became the district's superintendent two months ago, said the district and its 976 students had a smooth start to the school year.

Brent Pistner became dean of students at the middle/high school to handle student discipline, and Billie Jo Beatty will be an assistant principal at the elementary school.

Middle/high school officials are emphasizing their career program that gives students assignments and classes according to their goals.

"It starts in eighth grade, and they meet a few times a year," Northcraft said, describing how students are guided by teachers associated with their identified career field.

Those teachers are encouraging students to take more Advanced Placement classes in subject areas such as history, English and calculus. Enrollment is up for AP classes, Northcraft said.

Central Fulton also will start a co-teaching program in which two teachers will work in classes with special education students, launch an anti-bullying program and develop Web pages for teachers to post syllabuses and grading policies.

"Each child should know in each course what he needs to do to get an A," Northcraft said.

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