The Delaware City School District's enrollment is expected to hit 5,800 students this school year as classes resume Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Superintendent Paul Craft said the district has added about 100 students on average annually during the past decade and is expected to add about 70 students a year for the next 10 years.

The district had 4,142 students in 2000.

New and planned housing developments in the district include six on Delaware's west side, five in the Schultz Elementary School attendance area and one in the Carlisle Elementary School area.

Five more are rising on the city's east side, in Conger Elementary School's area; another is in Woodward Elementary School's attendance zone.

"The kids just keep coming," Craft said.

The district's newest preschool classrooms are filled, and its special-needs preschool enrollment stands at 230, up from 70 students five years ago.

He said the district has a "two- or three-year window" before facility space becomes critical, but when it does, a ballot issue is unlikely.

Any facility financing likely would involve extending bond authority or refinancing, Craft said.

The district is "very sensitive" to the fact that "taxpayers passed a big levy for us last November. (The school board) wants to stay away from our voters for new money as long as we can."

Aug. 15 is the first day of classes for grades 1-12. Kindergartners' first days will be staggered Aug. 15 and 16. Aug. 20 is the first day of preschool.

District spokeswoman Jennifer Ruhe listed several events leading up to and continuing through the start of the year, including Hayes High School freshman orientation from noon to 2 p.m. and elementary back-to-school nights from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13; Dempsey Middle School meet-the-teacher night for seventh and eighth grades from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20; and a Hayes High School open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 29.

Other back-to-school events can be found at the district's calendar at tinyurl.com/ delawarecalendar.

School hours for each grade level can be found at tinyurl.com/delawarehours.

A top goal during the new school year will be to help seniors meet the state's increasingly stringent requirements for graduation, Craft said.

"This year, different pathways to graduation have been eliminated by the state," which gradually has been tightening requirements in recent years, he said.

It will take "a lot of support" to help some students meet the new requirements, he said.

"We're here ... to make sure every student who walks through our door finds a safe, nurturing and loving environment that lets them maximize their growth," Craft said. "To me, it's about freedom. Maximizing their growth is going to give them the most freedom to go out and do amazing things after they leave our four walls, and after they cross that football field and get their diploma."

The district is buoyed by Hayes High School's designation among the top 8 percent of schools in both Ohio and the nation, issued by U.S. News and World Report this year.

Also this year, the district will continue its gradual replacement of diesel-powered school buses with those running on propane, Craft said.

The district now has 43 buses, including 12 that use propane.

The district has been buying propane-powered buses when those with diesel engines are retired from its fleet.

Propane-powered buses are more efficient and reduce carbon emissions, Craft said, and are easier and cheaper to maintain.

The new buses also reduce diesel fumes and run more quietly.

The district uses a computerized system to help plot bus routes, to reduce riding times for students as much as possible, Craft said.

Big Walnut

As in Delaware, classes for the new school year will start Aug. 15 in the Big Walnut Local School District.

Among changes this year will be semester report cards at the elementary schools.

The August edition of the Eagle Examiner, the district's newsletter, says, "We are very excited to be transitioning to semesters this year in order to give teachers more time to teach and less time to test. A 'Keys to Success' section will be added to the report cards. We based these indicators on the top employability skills needed in a 21st-century workplace. Students will be taught how to be good collaborators, communicators, problem solvers, responsible citizens and self-directed learners."

The Examiner is available at tinyurl.com/bwexaminer.

A districtwide meet-and-greet is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 14, and curriculum night will be Aug. 21 -- 6:30 p.m. at the high school and 6 p.m. at other buildings.

Superintendent Angie Pollock wrote in the Examiner, "We are ready to renew our commitment to reaching our 2020 Vision for academics. ... Our vision is that by the year 2020, all of our classrooms will personalize instruction to fit each student's needs, engage students in real-world connections, and ensure that all students are growing academically, socially and emotionally.

"We have made great strides in reaching this vision and will continue to work with our staff to make sure that our students are getting the skills they need to be successful in a world where 65 percent of future jobs do not even exist."

The Examiner also includes a building renovations update by director of facilities Doug Swartz.

"The security improvement projects at Big Walnut Elementary, Hylen Souders Elementary, Harrison Street Elementary, Big Walnut Intermediate and Big Walnut High School are all slated to be operational for the start of the 2018-2019 school year," he wrote.

"These upgrades allow us to standardize safety protocols at all five schools. Because we received good bids for the initial five schools, we will be undertaking minor safety upgrades at the two remaining schools, General Rosecrans Elementary and Big Walnut Middle School. While the buildings will be safe and operational to start school, the remainder of the projects will be completed during evenings and weekends after the school year begins."

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