The school year appears to be off to a good start for about 7,200 students within the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools.
Superintendent Francis Scruci told the school board Aug. 12 that everything went smoothly as classes began for the 2014-15 year.
"I think we had as good of a start as we could," he said. "With transportation, the difference was unbelievable (compared to last year). Our bus drivers did a super job."
Scruci said he toured district facilities Wednesday, Aug. 13, which was opening day for most G-J students.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors returned Aug. 14.
While visiting new modulars for fifth-graders at Blacklick Elementary School, he said, one student described it as the "best ever, like a tree house."
"If you didn't know you were in a modular, you wouldn't know you were in modular," he said.
Scruci said the high school welcomed 686 freshmen.
School board president Jill Schuler said her son is one of them, and he received a call from the Link Crew the day before classes started.
"It made my son so much calmer for the next day," she said. "That was a nice touch."
The Link Crew is a school community-building program, including juniors and seniors.
Betsy Morrison, math teacher and Link Crew coordinator, said group's leaders are motivators, leaders and teachers who guide freshmen and new students to discover what it takes to be successful in high school.
About 120 Link Crew students were at the high school at 6 a.m. Aug. 13, getting ready to welcome freshmen for orientation.
After the orientation, Link leaders guide nine to 10 freshmen through a series of activities designed to help them all get to know each other and to learn important information about school.
Scruci said close to 2,400 students are at the high school.
Jenny Palguta, of the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association, said it had been a great couple of days with teachers getting organized for students.
"It's wonderful to see the kids coming in," she said. "We're ramping up for a great school year."
She said the district welcomed 62 new teachers.
EMG staffs 11 technicians to help as season begins
Dave Nobile, of EMG, the district's information-technology provider, said 11 technicians would in schools for the first two weeks of classes.
"There's one tech in every building," he said. "The feedback has been positive."
He said a building support model has been reconfigured for better efficiency.
"We felt it was important a tech be responsible," he said. "A ticket is assigned to a tech. It has become very efficient. That's how we get our data."
Schuler asked how many requests are received in a given day.
"I was informed today that (open) tickets were (fewer than) 350 at the start of the day," he said. "Twenty-five new ones came in. They were down to 340."
Board member Matthew Campbell asked what's the longest amount of time it has taken to close a help-desk ticket.
"I have that data, but I chose to omit it," Nobile said. "The data doesn't reflect true numbers. I had 30 or 40 requests (not entered as a ticket). It's probably a one- to four-day turnaround."
He said he's also working on an improved communication model.
"That's my initiative," he said. "I'm in contact with the principals. They have a single person they can call. I've also received positive feedback on that as well. We're starting off the school year. So far I've heard positive things. I'll provide more data in a couple months."
In board action, a resolution was approved to advertise and receive bids for two special-needs buses and five 82-passenger conventional buses.
The board also will participate and authorize the Metropolitan Education Council to advertise and bid on its behalf.
McKenna recognized for two decades on board
Windy McKenna was recognized by Dr. Kim Miller-Smith, regional manager of the Ohio School Boards Association, for a milestone of 20 years on the school board.
"We thank Ms. McKenna for her service to public education and her commitment to the students and families of Gahanna," Miller-Smith said.
McKenna began her first term on the board in August 1994 as an appointee.
Board members congratulated her for her longevity.