Changes await incoming Big Walnut students
Big Walnut students are sharpening their No. 2 pencils and scurrying to make it to their classrooms by the sound of the bell on the first day of school.
The Big Walnut Local School District will welcome students back Wednesday, Aug. 22, after a three-month summer hiatus.
Superintendent Steve Mazzi said there have been a few changes that will affect the 2012-13 school year.
A number of teachers have retired in the last year, which means a lot of new teachers have been hired or, in some cases, their positions were not filled.
"We have been seeing what the needs are and if some of those positions can be absorbed," Mazzi said. "We have had many more teachers to replace than we have had in previous years."
In addition to replacing teachers, the district has made some changes to its administrative offices.
The district's four main goals are student achievement, facility, communication and fiscal responsibility. As part of all of these goals, the district decided to shut down its administrative building, built in the 1800s, and move its offices to Big Walnut Intermediate School, Mazzi said.
"I'm excited that our four goals are met by this new building," he said. "We are endeavoring to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars, increase communication and improve our facilities."
Big Walnut Middle School will house seventh- and eighth-grade students, and the intermediate school will house fifth- and sixth-grade students plus the district administration, the superintendent, student services, the food service coordinator and gifted student services.
Mazzi said he thinks having the administrators in with the students every day will be a good thing.
"It's a better opportunity to interact with the students and we'll be closer to all of the other school buildings," he said. "All but one (of the schools) are in Sunbury, so we will be more accessible."
Although taxpayers passed a 2010 operating levy, Mazzi said it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance the revenue with services provided to the children due to unfunded mandates.
"Since House Bill 316 passed, we have to be able to provide intervention services to all students who aren't doing well," he said.
Mazzi said he thinks this will be a great year and he's excited about the possibilities.
"We go in with the idea that every year will bring its challenges and its opportunities, and no one class is the same," he said.
Mazzi said every school year is a chance to interact with the students and the community in a positive way.
"The biggest thing right now is just getting everyone ready to go and in the doors," he said.
Mazzi also sends out a plea to parents and students for their patience with the bus service.
"People are still learning their routes -- things may take a little longer, so bear with us," he said.