New Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Steve Barrett said he's excited about the hiring of 40 new staff members -- including six who are filling new positions -- for the 2016-17 school year.

New Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Steve Barrett said he's excited about the hiring of 40 new staff members -- including six who are filling new positions -- for the 2016-17 school year.

The district expects the new year to show an increase in enrollment.

"Last year, our district enrollment totaled 7,480 students" including preschool and vocational education, he said. "As of Aug. 18, our current student head count is 7,286, not including preschool and vocational education, as well as the majority of kindergarten students as they begin the year on a staggered entrance."

Barrett said more concrete enrollment figures would be available in September.

On Aug. 17, which was the first day of school for most G-J students, the numbers of students were: Blacklick, 510; Chapelfield, 411; Goshen Lane, 454; High Point 459; Jefferson, 504; Lincoln, 432; Royal Manor, 481; Middle School East, 502; Middle School South, 625; Middle School West, 589; and Lincoln, 2,395.

"I was out to every building and things were going very smoothly," Barrett said. "It was a good day. We had a spike, especially in kindergarten enrollment."

He said the district recently added two new kindergarten teachers who will work at Jefferson Elementary and Blacklick Eementary.

"We also hired an intervention specialist who will be working at Goshen Lane and Jefferson," Barrett said.

A fifth-grade teaching position also has been added at Lincoln Elementary School, a seventh-grade teacher at Middle School South and a district English teacher as a second language teacher, bringing the total of new districtwide positions to six.

"We are also excited to welcome Mr. Steven Tartt to Middle School West as assistant principal," Barrett said.

He comes to G-J from Reynoldsburg City Schools, where he most recently served as assistant principal of STEM at Baldwin Road Junior High.

Tartt also was an English teacher, instructional coach and athletics coach at Reynoldsburg High School for 20 years.

"It's exciting we hired 40 new teachers," Barrett said.

"There were people who had a husband or wife who got transferred and there were some resignations. Lo and behold there were 40 openings so we hired 40 new teachers. We had a lot of professional development and set expectations. I'm excited about them."

During a board retreat at the end of July, Barrett said, it was discussed how to plan strategically and be transparent with the community.

He said three new committees have been formed: Student Learning and Achievement, Finance and Policy.

"Looking at student learning and achievement, it's the most important thing we do," he said. "We want to have rich discussions about the programs we have. We want to communicate with the board and community, celebrate learning and show what we're doing."

He said the finance committee would focus on aggressively managing the largest expense areas -salaries, benefits, special education and facilities.

"We'll look at the financial forecast and have monthly update," Barrett said. "We'll try hard to manage our spending."

He said the policy committee would involve developing policy and guidelines for governance.

"These committees will serve as ways for us to communicate the things we're doing with our community. It's a way for us to be collaborative."

He said the community would be re-engaged -- probably at the end of fall -- regarding facility plans.

"The last time we engaged was sometime in April at the high school. There hasn't been a meeting since. We will re-engage that process. We were busy with capital improvement projects this summer."

He said Scott Schmidt, who served as interim superintendent, helped and supported him in the administrative transition "every step of the way."

"Mr. Barrett brings great knowledge and experience to our district, and I am very excited to be welcoming Mr. Barrett to Gahanna-Jefferson," Schmidt said. "In my role as assistant superintendent, we have been working very closely with each other to support district operations. I am looking forward to continuing to serve Gahanna-Jefferson students and families in my new role."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla