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Most Franklin County students, staff return to classes

Tuscarora District schools will open Sept. 6

August 29, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Laimair Darby, a second-grader at Fairview Elementary School in Waynesboro, Pa., looks under his desk for a piece of chocolate that was taped under his desk for the first day of school.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Monday was a day that thousands of parents and students in Franklin County, Pa., either dreaded or loved.

School started for students in the Chambersburg Area, Fannett-Metal, Greencastle-Antrim and Waynesboro Area school districts. The first day of school for Tuscarora School District is Sept. 6. Tuscarora includes Mercersburg, Pa., and surrounding townships.

School officials reported a smooth start to the academic year with a few transportation glitches, mostly with students boarding the wrong buses.

“Overall, it really has been a good day,” Greencastle-Antrim Superintendent Greg Hoover said.

In addition to staff, teachers and 3,000 students, another group arrived on Greencastle-Antrim’s school campus Monday. The crews replacing the school track started their efforts, which are expected to take 14 days.

Some athletic events are being moved to the “North” multipurpose field; others are being changed to away games. Hoover said the high school hopes to host its Sept. 9 football game on the newly resurfaced field.

Waynesboro Area Senior High School Principal Chris Dennis said some of the 1,300 students, particularly new ones, face slight schedule changes this week. He said most schedules are finalized.

“There are fewer electives for the students to choose from. ... Overall, our class sizes are a bit larger than other years,” Dennis said.

Budget cuts for 2011-12 resulted in the district having 24 fewer professional staff members, including 12 fewer high school teachers. Physical education for 11th and 12th grades was eliminated, and a 12th-grade speech class will now be taken by juniors.

“The budget really made it a challenge for the principals to schedule,” said James Robertson, Waynesboro Area School District superintendent.

Robertson said the start of school went well for the district, which has total enrollment of about 4,200 students.

Waynesboro students will take 4Sight tests Thursday and Friday to determine their base knowledge at the start of the year.

Chambersburg Area School District Assistant Superintendent Catherine Dusman said her district also will be determining its students’ starting points.

“I think the overall focus is on every child making a year’s worth of growth in content areas,” she said.

The Chambersburg Area School District opened two middle schools and a ninth-grade academy Monday for the first time.

“I think the advance planning helped with that transition,” Dusman said.

Chambersburg received 100 new student registrations last week and 18 Monday. The kindergarten and first-grade classes are at record enrollments, with 750 children registered in kindergarten alone.

Late registrations create “a domino effect” not only for teachers setting up their classrooms, but cafeteria and transportation systems, Dusman said.

Budget cuts in Chambersburg led to the consolidation of classrooms, which Dusman called “very challenging” for a district with an enrollment of about 8,100.

“We’re trying to do the best we can with the budget constraints we have,” she said. “I think everybody really has learned how to do more with less.”

Hoover said Greencastle-Antrim’s kindergarten class was divided in half for the week, allowing some students to attend Monday and Wednesday, and others Tuesday and Thursday. The entire class will attend school Friday.

With half the students, teachers can provide more one-on-one attention and school officials can work on bus procedures, Hoover said.

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