Delaware News

Delaware schools prepare to throw open doors

Enrollment up by 100 as first day of 2014-15 school year nears; orientation events scheduled this week

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The first day of school is just around the corner, and the Delaware City School District is getting ready to welcome students with open arms.

District leaders anticipate around 100 more students to be enrolled by Aug. 13 -- the official starting date -- than there were the previous year.

Superintendent Paul Craft said 2014-15 is shaping up to be an exciting year, and the increased enrollment is a sign that residents trust the district to teach their students.

"We are excited that families are still choosing our district to educate their children," he said. "No matter how many we end up having, we'll be ready for them on Aug. 13."

Andy Hatton, director of student services, said he takes pride in the fact that the district is continuing to grow.

"We are such a strong district and that is one of the many reasons that makes Delaware such a great place to live," he said.

At Dempsey, the One-to-One project aims to put an electronic device in the hands of every seventh-grade student. It's part of the district's effort to include more blended learning.

"The fundamentals of education have not changed in 30 years as far as establishing objectives, instruction and practice," he said. "However, what has changed is the tools we have available for all these steps. Students have new ways to practice the skills we are teaching."

During the district's Summer Summit for teachers, one of the main discussion points was how to introduce new learning options for students.

Hatton said a tablet computer will never replace a good teacher, but said teachers can use such resources to maximize student growth.

In November, the district will ask voters to renew a 3-mill permanent-improvement levy that will not raise taxes.

"We aren't asking for any new taxes, and the amount collected per household will continue to go down as more homes and buildings are erected in Delaware," Craft said.

The district is in the process of renovating all of its buildings with funds from a 2013 bond issue.

Craft said the district was able to greatly reduce costs by adding on to schools, rather than demolishing and rebuilding them, to keep up with enrollment.

Although this year's state report card has not yet been released, preliminary data shows seven of the eight schools have improved their ratings, he said.

"These are the highest performance indexes I have ever seen," Craft said, referring to the element of the report cards that tracks the achievements of each student over an entire school year.

"What's important isn't just the number, but what that number shows," he said. "That number shows just how much our kids know and can do."

Upcoming events before classes begin include:

* 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 -- Dempsey eighth-grade orientation.

* 7 to 10 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6 -- Hayes schedule pickup.

* Aug. 6-7 -- orientation for fifth- and sixth-graders; parents received letters with specific times.

* 4:45 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 -- Dempsey seventh-grade orientation.

* noon to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 11 -- Hayes freshmen orientation.

* 4:30 to 6 p.m. Aug. 11 -- back-to-school night at the elementary schools.

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