2014-2015 school year gets started next week around Switzerland County

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It seems like a short time since the graduating class of 2014 went through commencement on Sunday, June 8th; but for students here in Switzerland County, summer is nearly over.

They head back to school this Tuesday.

School officially opens on Monday when teachers and staff report for their first day of work; and students will have their first day of the new school year on Tuesday. For parents who still have questions about their student’s classroom or schedule, call the school that the child will be attending.

A new wrinkle in this year’s school calendar is that school will not be in session on Friday, August 22nd. The Switzerland County School Board voted to not have school that day because of the heavy involvement of students and parents on the opening night of the Swiss Wine Festival, which is Thursday, August 21st.

“We’re very excited about the beginning of the new school year,” Superintendent of Schools Mike Jones said. “It’s hard to believe that a new school year is already upon us, but we’re ready to go.”

Superintendent Jones said that students and parents will be greeted by lots of new faces in the schools this year, as retirements and other teachers leaving has led to some new staff.

“We have a new principal, of course, at the middle school,” Mike Jones said. “Sean McGarvey is certainly not new to our community or our schools, so we see a smooth transition there. We’re going to have a licensed band and music teacher at both elementary schools, which we’re hoping will give more students opportunities to be in the band and to have music classes with a licensed teachers. Hopefully that’s something we’ll see with a larger band and choir. Mr. Grice will now be spending most of his time at the middle school and high school.”

The superintendent also said that work will soon be started on creating a more secure entrance at the front of the middle school; and plans are also underway to make the main entrance of the high school more secure.

“There’s no question that we’re committed to do it,” Mike Jones said of the high school project. “It’s just a question as to when the work is going to start. We don’t know whether it’s going to be in 2014 or 2015.”

Mike Jones said that another way that the school corporation is working to keep students and staff more safe is that the schools are currently working on an interlocal agreement between the corporation and the Town of Vevay to bring a School Resource Officer on board.

The School Resource Officer will be officially a deputy with the Vevay Police Department, but the salary will be paid by the school corporation through grant funds that have been received and matching dollars.

“We’re hoping to have that person in place as early as October,” Superintendent Jones said.

Technology also continues to be at the forefront of the school corporation.

This year, all students in grades 7-12 will have a Chromebook provided by the corporation. Mike Jones said that when the technology plan was approved by the school board, it was noted that the teaching staff needed training as to how to utilize the technology in the classroom; and staff is continuing to be trained.

To that end, the superintendent hopes that the corporation will be able to fully ‘roll out’ the Chromebooks sometime in January. In addition, new staff has been hired to provide technical assistance and training for the teachers on a daily basis.

Until the Chromebooks are ready to be put in place, the superintendent said that the iPads will still be used in grades five, six, seven, and eight. Once the Chromebooks come online, the iPads currently with seventh and eighth graders will be moved down as far as the third grade.

That means, once fully in place, students in grades 3-6 will have iPads; and students in grades 7-12 will have Chromebooks.

“We are also looking at some sort of tablet for the younger children, as well,” Mike Jones said. “There’s a lot going on. It’s pretty exciting.”