Bells will be ringing...
On Friday morning, when the 08-09 school year kicks off in Bryan County.
The local faculty and staff attended a Welcome Back meeting Tuesday and the final planning days are Wednesday and Thursday.
Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said principals, school staff and central office staff have been very busy this week, "ensuring that Friday is the best first day of school ever."
"One of my favorite things about opening school is attending every open house and watching the smiling faces of parents and children," Brewer said. "Our standards for the year are to make the best school system better in both objective and subjective measurements. Test scores are important, but the satisfaction of our staff, students, and parents is the more effective evaluation of success."
Changes for this year include the completion of some major construction projects over the summer, including the paving at Carver and a bus road behind Richmond Hill Primary School, plus several others that are still underway, such as the paving of a bus facility and an additional parking area at Carver.
With the impending morning and afternoon traffic often associated with the K-5 complex in Richmond Hill set to start Friday, Assistant Superintendent Brad Anderson said the district has made improvements for the upcoming year, which should help alleviate some of the issues.
"The first week, we’ll all be out there helping to direct traffic," he said, noting their goal is to keep traffic off of Frances Meeks Way and Hwy. 144, moving smoothly into the schools’ drop off areas.
The district worked with both City Manager Mike Melton and Police Chief Billy Reynolds to help work a better plan for this year.
"The buses won’t be in the car line, as much as we can possibly keep them out of it," Anderson said.
Anderson said pre-K students will be picked up a little earlier and the times for RHPS, RHES and CES have been staggered slightly, which school officials hope will work better.
"Next year, the ‘landing pad’ (for drop offs and pick ups) at Carver and the new RHES will each hold 110-150 cars, so we just need to make it through this year and things should drastically improve next year," he said. "This year, parents just need to be patient – especially during the first two weeks while everyone gets used to where they need to go – and we’ll modify the plan as needed."
If parents have questions, concerns or suggestions for how a particular school is handling the traffic route, they should contact the principal. If there is a suggestion to improve the overall flow of morning traffic, Anderson said he would welcome input at the central office, 626-5000. Additionally, Brewer pointed out that during open houses, teachers will all have surveys for parents to take and fill out. They are asked to circle the top five most important items for system improvement and trade it in for a homework pass for their child, she said.
"If it’s not working right, it impacts all of our programs," Anderson said. "Next year we’ll have the increased infrastructure, which is what we really need. This is an improvement and a step in the right direction."
Anderson said he thinks the district is ready for the 08-09 year and he is "hoping this is one of our best years yet."
While driving around the K-5 complex in Richmond Hill, residents will see construction for the new elementary school is continuing. The district expects the building to be finished in March and the first stages of construction for the new Richmond Hill Middle School will begin sometime in the fall.
Five Things Every Parent Should Know:
l. Safety is the first priority. Please ensure that you provide all possible contact numbers in case of emergency or just for the purpose of school contact about conferences or other matters. Also be sure the school has all information regarding health, special nutrition needs, custody, and other issues which will support the school in keeping your child safe.
2. Review the Good News About Bryan County Schools newspaper for information about open house, school opening and closing times, programs, staff, supply lists and many other kinds of important information. If a newspaper did not come to your house or you just moved in, call Community Education at 459-5116 and pick up a copy. You may also review the student handbook on the board website to ensure conformity with dress code and other student matters. There were few changes made to last year’s handbook, which have been printed in red for your convenience.
3. Call the school to address issues or to obtain information. If it is a classroom issue, contact the teacher first and then contact the principal. If it is a general school issue, please contact the principal. The system protocol is to address the issue at the level at which it is handled.
4. Know that your child is part of a great school system that is getting better every year. Bryan County Schools lead coastal Georgia on the SAT’s. Though CRCT scores are down across the state because of new tests and new curriculum, Bryan County still outscores our neighbors. Bryan County has, for two years in a row, retained 92 percent of its teachers. A high quality teaching staff is the most important component in a high quality educational program. The school system is a star in Bryan County’s crown. People move here to get what the district offers for their children.
5. Bryan County has a great system which can be better every year with your input. Communication is a two-way street; it cannot work without participation from school and from home. (See page 8A for more about communication in Bryan County Schools.)
-submitted by Dr. Sallie Brewer, compiled by Jessica Holthaus