Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe

New year brings new staff, new programs, construction

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Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools' new superintendent, Dale Dickson, said the district is ramping up for the 2014-15 school year that will bring new staff members, new programs, a new bus company and new schools.

Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 20, for about 1,600 students in the district. Teachers report Monday, Aug. 18, for a workday in their classrooms, and Tuesday, Aug. 19, will be a professional development day.

In addition to Dickson, who began with the district May 14, Adams Middle School welcomes new principal Michael Carr, former assistant principal at Westerville Central High School. He replaces Debbie Seibel, who's the district's new director of administrative services.

"Teacher-wise, we have a plethora of them," Dickson said.

New high school staff members include Rhonda Bellard, family consumer science; Joshua Bergstrom, art; Kristi Chumney, dean of students/athletics director; Amanda Dempsey, science; Alicia Doty, library media; Catherine Todd, intervention specialist; and Tara White, English.

Sara Young will teach gifted-education programs at both Oregon and Searfoss elementary schools. New Searfoss staff includes Ann Kirker, Title 1; Jennifer McGinnis, fifth-grade reading/language arts; and Heather White, intervention specialist.

A new district employee is Kevin Adams, district technology coordinator.

Dickson said enrollment is holding steady. The projected overall enrollment is 1,587. Estimates per building are 502 at the high school, 338 at the middle school, 354 at Oregon and 393 at Searfoss.

Dickson said the district's facilities project would take the lion's share of time.

"We're in the process of choosing design firms," Dickson said. "We'll start vision and planning meetings and invite members of the community and staff as to what the buildings will look like.

"We potentially could have a meeting in August, definitely in September. We'll have a mechanism for anyone to give input," he said. "These are our schools. Facilities will continue to take up most of our time."

Construction on the horizon

In May, voters approved an 8-mill tax issue, with 7.5 mills for bonds to construct and renovate school facilities and 0.5 mill for permanent improvements to maintain the new buildings.

The bond will finance a new building to house kindergarten through fifth grade on 11 acres of district property within the Leafy Dell subdivision.

A new high school for grades 9-12 will be constructed on land at the current Searfoss Elementary School/Johnstown-Monroe High School campus, likely on the practice field behind the high school.

"We're still working with entities on the footprint of where the high school will be," Dickson said.

Online learning offered

Dickson said the district is offering new online learning opportunities.

"We're excited about that," he said. "Parent choice is important. It's important we provide as many opportunities for children, including online learning. If students wants to be home-schooled, we have k12 online schools. That way they can continue to participate in our extracurricular activities, as well. We're trying to build as much flexibility as we can in the learning experiences."

Dickson said the district is addressing several areas regarding virtual learning, including remediation, acceleration to give students extra courses they couldn't take at school, online virtual learning and blended learning, with teachers using technology to supplement what they do in the classroom for a mix of traditional instruction and online.

"We're excited about those opportunities," Dickson said.

New bus company on board

The district also has a new transportation company, Community Bus Services.

"They've worked extremely hard setting new routes," Dickson said. "I have great expectations for the transportation service within the guidelines of a 1.5-mile radius. We only offer transportation in K-8 for now. The board will continue to monitor our transportation policy and live within our means to provide the best transportation possible."

An open house will be held at the high school from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19. Parents, students and the community will be able to meet the new faculty and staff members, visit classrooms and pick up schedules.

A freshman orientation meeting will be in the gym beginning at 5:30 p.m.

A sixth-grade and new-student orientation/schedule pickup will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at Adams Middle School.

Searfoss Elementary School will host an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18. A kindergarten parent meeting begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by a fourth-grade parents meeting at 6 p.m. and a fifth-grade parents meeting at 6:30 p.m.

An open house will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at Oregon Elementary School. Parent sessions include first grade, 5:30 p.m.; second grade, 6 p.m.; and third grade, 6:30 p.m.

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