EAST LIVERPOOL - As yellow buses once again roll through the streets of East Liverpool, Superintendent James Herring said he is optimistic about the new school year.
"We're looking forward to an exciting year," he said.
An estimated 2,200 students return to class today at East Liverpool Junior High and High School, Westgate Middle School and LaCroft and North elementary schools.
Superintendent James Herring’s “newbies” — new teaching and administrative staff at East Liverpool City Schools — pose for a group photo during a recent get-together. The 2013-14 school year starts today. (Submitted Photo)
Among the new faces at the school buildings are the newly-hired Westgate Principal Carole Sutton, LaCroft Principal James Jarvis and district technology coordinator Ron Peach, Herring said.
Effective this school year is the third-grade reading guarantee that is now state law. The third-grade guarantee says that third-graders must demonstrate the ability to read at grade level by the end of the school year in order to advance to the fourth grade.
Herring said East Liverpool teachers have received in-service training and professional development in how to implement the new Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Ohio law now requires students to demonstrate proficiency in the Common Core standards, which were adopted by the state legislature in 2010.
"These are new (academic) standards that the students will have to be able to target and reach, and we're starting to use those," Herring said.
Herring said the district, in addition to adding new computers, is looking at the option of distributing notebook computers to students as they enter high school. Students would use the computers throughout their high school career and have the option of buying them at a reduced cost once they graduate, he said.
The district, with the help of the new technology coordinator, currently is researching grants and other funding opportunities to make wide distribution of notebook computers possible, Herring said.
With the release of the state report cards last week, Herring said East Liverpool had a mix of good news and bad news.
"I would like to have done better, but we've seen a lot of improvements. We've seen some growth, so I congratulate the teachers, the parents and the students for their hard work," he said.
Although the state report card system is in transition and won't be fully in place until 2015, East Liverpool City Schools received one A - for overall progress in math and reading proficiency for grades 4-8 - two Bs, three Cs, a D and two Fs. The latter were in the categories of achievement on standardized tests, including the Ohio Graduation Test, and the achievement gap - how well students are doing regardless of their income level, race or disability.
Despite some setbacks in the past year, Herring said Patterson Field will be ready for the fall football season. "It's a beautiful facility for the community, and I think the community should be proud," he said.
An open house for the improved facility, including new locker rooms and and restrooms, will be held sometime in September, Herring said. The Potters' first home game at the renovated stadium is against Indian Creek High School (Wintersville) on Sept. 6.
Other physical improvements that students will notice as they return to school include fresh interior paint at Westgate Middle School, where every room was repainted over the summer. "Our custodial staff and maintenance crew have done an excellent job," Herring said.