08/09/11 — Two schools open; rest prepare for first day

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Two schools open; rest prepare for first day

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 9, 2011 1:46 PM

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Kayla Ely and Paige Evers get a chance to talk just before the start of class at the Wayne County School of Engineering at Goldsboro High on Monday. Classes for the School of Engineering and Wayne Early/Middle College High began Monday. Most public schools in the county will begin classes Aug. 25.

Classes have started for two of the 31 Wayne County public schools, signaling summer's end is approaching and students will soon be responding to bells and buses again.

Monday marked the first day of school at Wayne Early/Middle College High School and Wayne School of Engineering. The district's two newest schools operate in line with the schedule at Wayne Community College.

For the traditional schools, teachers return to work on Aug. 17 and students return on Thursday, Aug. 25.

The exception is at Dillard Middle and Goldsboro High schools, which start on Aug. 23. Their schedule is slightly different as part of stipulations of a grant, requiring additional teacher and student workdays.

Open house dates have also been announced to welcome parents and students for the new school year.

Monday, Aug. 22, has been set for middle and high school open house events, and the following night for elementary schools. There could be some exceptions, district officials said. Dillard, for example, will hold its event on Thursday, Aug. 18, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Further details will be announced in the coming week.

Despite the summer break for students and teachers, it has been a busy season for many others in the school system.

"We have been closing out one school year and gearing up for a new school year," said Ken Derksen, public information officer with WCPS. "It's an ongoing process."

Teachers new to the district have spent the past week attending training sessions and workshops and this week are involved in orientation, Derksen said.

"They're covering all the different facets as far as learning about policies. They got to meet (schools superintendent) Dr. (Steven) Taylor, Mrs. (Thelma) Smith (school board chairwoman), central office administration," he said. "They've evaluated how different things work, expectations of teachers and of course helping them know what they should expect of us as far as administrators and principals."

There is much to be done to ready for the return of students, Derksen said.

"This is an exciting time for the schools," he said. "Principals are getting ready, clean-up efforts are being made -- custodians are waxing the floors, maintenance is painting the classrooms."

At two middle schools, Norwayne and Eastern Wayne, preparations are being made to start the long-anticipated construction projects. Twenty-five modular units are being divided between the two campuses, and officials are working hard to have them in place by the start of school, Derksen said, to minimize disruption once classes resume.

Transportation schedules are also being finalized. In a district with more than 19,000 students, that's no small task, he said.

"We want to remind parents that bus stops won't be changed until after the tenth day of school unless there's a safety issue," he said. "They'll be monitoring the stops. They typically wait until after the tenth day of school (to make changes).

"We want to also remind the community to be on the watch for those yellow buses and to never pass a stopped school bus."

Office hours at the district's administrative offices, located on Royall Avenue, will return to a five-day schedule next week. For the summer months, the central office operated on a four-day-week and has been closed on Fridays.

Parents are encouraged to contact individual schools as well as the district office with any questions, Derksen said.

"Of course, we have information posted on our website, www.waynecountyschools.org, as far as open and close times, immunization and vaccinations and all the necessary information for enrolling in schools," he said. "We also remind parents, especially those new parents, all of our board policies are posted on our website. Also, schools will be providing handbooks to their students."