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County students enter 2011 school year

By Staff | Aug 26, 2011

Jefferson County students made their way back to school Wednesday as the 2011-2012 school year officially kicked off.

School administrators and county officials expect this year to be business as usual, though there are some notable changes to school policy which parents should to be aware of.

Gail Woods, spokesperson for Jefferson County Schools, said that this year Jefferson County is officially implementing an attendance policy for students. From now on, students may only be excused up to five days per semester by a parental note. Any further absences will require a doctor’s note, though exceptions are possible for extenuating circumstances.

The county is also gearing up for a full roll out of a pre-K program, which will become mandatory next year. Currently, pre-K only is offered at a few locations, including North Jefferson and Ranson Elementary schools, and enrollment is on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to Woods.

Overall enrollment in Jefferson County Schools is up to just around 8,800 students, though that number may rise as students who missed registration are added, Woods said. Meanwhile, there has been very little change in school personnel. All school principals are returning for the new school year and there were only about 30 teacher departures and arrivals, Woods said.

Woods also noted that schools have also been outfitted with new equipment to aid with teaching. The county added several smart boards to classrooms this summer and teachers attended technology trainings to learn how to use them effectively.

Shepherdstown Elementary School Principal Suzanne Offutt was excited about a return to normalcy as a construction project which made a playground temporarily unusable has been completed.

“These kids are going to be so happy to have that playground back,” Offutt said.

Offutt was especially grateful to a group of parents who made a huge push to get the school back in order for the start of the year.

Many came and helped spread the mulch for the playground to have it ready for their kids by Wednesday. Meanwhile, Offutt and her staff of teachers researched new programs in math, writing and other subjects to implement this school year.

Jefferson High School will be taking on 400 freshmen this year, according to Assistant Principal Bernie Knott. The school also had their track resurfaced over the summer in preparation of the school year. Knott was also pleased that of Jefferson High’s 85 teachers, there were only seven personnel changes. Knott was also happy to have the school year kicking off.

“We’re always excited to be back to school,” he said.

Information about all the upcoming changes can be found on the Jefferson County Schools website at boe.jeff.k12.wv.us. Parents also can go to the websites for each individual school to look up recommended supply lists as well as any special instructions like new drop off traffic patterns.