Licking County News

Licking Heights, Southwest Licking begin classes this week

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All good things must come to an end, and summer is no exception.

The Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school districts resume classes this week, and district officials say they are prepared for the students' return, which will include organizing tricky bus schedules.

"Please have patience the first few weeks," said Southwest Licking Superintendent Robert Jennell.

Southwest Licking classes begin Aug. 20, except for high school freshmen and sixth-graders, who have an orientation day Aug. 19.

Jennell said the bus schedules for middle school and high school students would be fairly similar to previous years, but now that the district offers all-day kindergarten and elementary grade banding, bus schedules would be significantly different for the younger grades.

Kirkersville Elementary School will be used for all kindergarten and first-grade students.

Pataskala Elementary School will become the second- and third-grade building and Etna Elementary School will house all fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Jennell urged parents to visit the district's website, swl.k12.oh.us, for bus schedules and other pertinent information.

Jennell said Southwest Licking enrolled 50 to 60 new students over the summer, so the bus routes would have to be tweaked continually during the first few weeks of school to adjust for the new students.

"These routes continue to evolve," he said.

An advantage to the grade banding, Jennell said, is the elementary buses would be more "age appropriate," meaning buses' passengers would be in similar grades.

Jennell said the district is doing its best to keep travel time down, but it must balance travel time with the expense of maintaining a large and costly bus fleet.

"It's not a taxi service," Jennell said. "I wish I could have an individual bus for an individual student," but everyone must work together to create safe and efficient transportation.

He said parents are invited to contact the bus garage with questions.

Meanwhile, in Licking Heights, Superintendent Philip Wagner said each new school year is an opportunity for a fresh beginning for students and faculty.

"There's a renewing aspect in education," Wagner said.

Licking Heights students also return to class Aug. 20.

Wagner said Licking Heights enrolled 183 students in seven weeks during the summer, and 94 students still must enroll before the beginning of the school year.

"This impacts bus routes and equipment," he said. "We've tried to automate the routing system."

Wagner said Licking Heights officials worked with Southwest Licking officials to find ways to organize bus routes.

"They've been very helpful," he said.

Wagner urged parents to visit the district website, licking-heights.k12.oh.us, and access the "Transportation Information" link.

According to the website, parents and students will be able to access busing information through a program called E-Link.

Once parents click on the link, they sign in using a student's first and last name as a user ID. The first and last names also will serve as a password.

For parents with several students, once the parent logs in with one of their names, the other students associated with that student also would load for viewing.

Parents are urged to check back often before school starts, as the times and bus number could change before the first day of school .

Students are urged to be at their designated bus stops at least five minutes prior to the estimated arrival time.

Parents of students attending Licking Heights West Elementary School must be visible to bus drivers before the student will be dismissed from the bus, according to district officials. If a parent cannot be present, names must be provided of the adults authorized to receive the student from the bus.

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