The Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools will welcome most students back to class Wednesday, Aug. 14, as elementary, middle and high school freshmen students file into school buildings.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors will return Thursday, Aug. 15.

Superintendent Steve Barrett said enrollment is about 7,550 students.

"We have hired 54 new teachers to replace staff who have retired or accepted positions outside of the district," he said. "Our curriculum team does an outstanding job onboarding these new teachers to our school district."

He said a new-teacher orientation was scheduled Aug. 5 and 6 to outline "who we are, what we prioritize and how to infuse our vision, mission and beliefs into their work with students."

Barrett said the district also would provide a base level of instructional support, covering resources and best practices for starting the school year strong.

He said the district has hired four new elementary counselors to support students with social and emotional needs.

The district also welcomes five new administrators, including Steve Tartt, Gahanna Middle School West principal, and Danny Graves, principal of Goshen Lane Elementary School.

Tartt has been with the Gahanna district since 2016 as an assistant principal at West, demonstrating a passion for leading, learning and creating a culture of high student achievement, Barrett said.

Aaron Winner, former Middle School West principal, has joined the district's operations team as a construction-project manager.

Graves most recently worked as an elementary executive director in the Columbus City Schools.

He succeeds Melanie McGue, who accepted a position at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

The other new administrators are Amie Ladd, Middle School West assistant principal; Andy Bonath, Middle School South assistant principal; and Dustin Cullen, Lincoln High School assistant principal.

Judy Hengstebeck, the district's communications coordinator, said the central-office staff love the energy that is felt around the district this time of year.

"All of our departments have returned and are preparing for that first day with our students and families," she said. "So much goes on behind the scenes to get our buildings and staff ready for the new year."

Hengstebeck said conscientious custodians and maintenance staff have worked throughout the summer to get district facilities and grounds in tip-top shape.

"Our school secretaries and office teams have been answering those important questions everyone has this time of year," she said. "The central-office staff has been available all summer, taking on those endless administrative tasks that keep our district operating smoothly and efficiently."

Hengstebeck said the transportation department and bus drivers have the fleet of buses ready for that first run of the school year.

And teachers and principals already have spent numerous hours preparing their classrooms and learning spaces, she said.

Barrett said each elementary and middle school classroom would have a fresh look and feel.

"We are excited to start the year with new flexible furniture in K-8 classrooms, which will be great for collaborative teaching and learning," he said.

Barrett said the district would continue to work with its construction manager and architects in design development for the new Lincoln Elementary School.

"Construction costs in central Ohio and across the country have risen significantly, and we are working to design a building that will meet our educational needs while staying on budget," he said. "While we hoped to accelerate the process and possibly construct the building a year ahead of schedule, the new Lincoln Elementary will open for the 2021-22 school year as promised."

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