Local students head back to school, see changes


By Sarah Allen - [email protected]



The upcoming school year will include changes in districts across the county, including early dismissals, reduced testing, and construction projects.

Hillsboro City Schools began the 2015-16 school year on Monday, and according to Supt. Jim Smith, the “biggest change” this year will be one-hour early dismissals every Wednesday.

This will be a change from one-hour late arrivals every Wednesday, Smith said. This time is allotted for professional development for teachers and staff, he added.

Smith also said there has been “major work at the football stadium,” including the blacktopping of areas that were once gravel. He added that the school is working on repairing parking lots.

Smith said Hillsboro has upgraded science labs and has 17 new textbooks district-wide. He also said that Hillsboro hired 41 new staff members.

That increase in hiring, he said, is common among many districts, following “so many retirements in the last couple of years.”

Other changes, Smith said, include a new calendar for testing, which the school received within “the last couple of weeks.” Testing will be held at “the very end of the year” during April and May, which is a “pretty significant change” from the February slot last year.

He added that the tests themselves will also change, as the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests are “no more” in the state of Ohio. The new tests, Smith said, are through American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Smith added that the Hillsboro district is “very pleased” that parents have chosen their district to educate their children, and “we look forward to working with them.”

Lynchburg-Clay starts on Monday, Aug. 17. Supt. Brett Justice also discussed upcoming changes with testing. He said the philosophy behind recent legislation is to reduce the amount of time students spend prepping for and taking tests.

Requirements and standards, he added, remain the same.

Justice said that, weather permitting, the school’s athletic complex will be completed by the time students start classes.

He also said that there have been some adjustments to lunch prices, including a la carte items. Elementary lunches have also increased from $2.10 to $2.25

He added that parents, students, and teachers can check the school’s website for policies and updates. Justice said that a district Facebook page is another “resource for our community.”

In Leesburg, Fairfield Local Schools Supt. Bill Garrett said the district is “looking forward to another great school year.”

Fairfield starts on Wednesday, Aug 19. This upcoming year, Garrett said, the school will be “in the middle of a construction project,” which may affect parking and traffic flow.

According to Garrett, Fairfield plans to break ground on the project Sept. 1. The addition to the school will include eight classrooms, a multipurpose cafeteria/gymnasium, and an office area. Garett said construction should be complete by Fall 2016, which, he added, is a “pretty aggressive timeline.”

Additional information on possible parking and traffic changes will be provided to parents as it becomes available.

Garrett added that there have been no other major changes in staffing, scheduling, or lunches.

Greenfield Exempted Village Schools also start on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Supt. Joe Wills said this year’s calendar is similar to past years.

He added that there was a 10-cent increase in lunches, with elementary lunches at $2.10, middle and high school lunches at $2.35, and milk at 40 cents. The school will continue to offer free breakfast.

Wills also said that the school board recently purchased additional technology items for the district.

In addition, Wills said the district is continuing to make plans for the McClain High School centennial celebration.

Festivities for alumni will begin on Sept. 4, he said, with the rededication of the high school set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6.

Wednesday, Aug. 19, is the first day for Bright Local Schools. The high school open house will be held on Monday, Aug. 17, from 5-6 p.m. for the seventh grade and from 6-7 p.m. for grades 8-12.

Elementary open house will be on Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 5-6 p.m. for fifth and sixth grades and from 6-7 p.m. for preschool through fourth grade.

New Supt. Ted Downing said he will be at all the open houses. He added that he is “looking forward to meeting some of the families” in the district.

He said that lunch prices “went up just a little bit,” with $2.25 for grades seventh through 12, $2 for elementary students, and 75 cents for breakfast.

He added that there will be no athletic fees this year. Downing also said there will be some changes in the discipline policy, including in regard to the grades students can possibly receive if they are suspended.

Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.

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By Sarah Allen

[email protected]

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