COUNCIL ROCK >> School bells will be ringing throughout the Council Rock School District on Sept. 3 and 4 as the district welcomes back more than 10,800 students for the start of the 2019-20 school year.
“The countdown is on,” announced Superintendent Dr. Robert Fraser at the August 22 school board meeting. “The first day of school is quickly approaching. I know I’m excited and hopefully others are too.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 3 students in grades Kindergarten to 6 and 7 and 9 will report for the first day of school with all students, grades Kindergarten to 12, reporting to class on Wednesday, Sept. 4.
“We are certainly ready for a fantastic opening of the school year. We cannot wait to see all of our staff and students back,” said Fraser.
This year, the district will be welcoming 70 new hires across the district, including 48 professional staff and 22 support staff hires.
“It’s a big group. I can tell you I am very impressed by what I’ve seen from these folks and I’m excited to have them as part of the team,” said Fraser.
The new school year will be one of change for some of the district’s 5,400 elementary students as Council Rock implements its redistricting plan and students transition to new schools, teachers, administrators and friends.
By shifting students and boundaries, the plan brings each school close to average capacity at the elementary, middle and high school level, balances enrollments at the secondary level by shifting students from the south to the north and eliminates elementary islands on the redistricting map.
To help with the adjustment, this past spring the district launched comprehensive transition activities with school-based Welcome Sessions, including building visitations and meet and greets with building teachers and administrators.
Those activities will continue during the first few weeks of the new school year with school-wide welcomes, student leadership opportunities and PTO Welcome Back Socials planned. The peer buddies program and opportunities for lunch groups also will be available.
In addition, there will be ongoing collaboration between sending and receiving schools. Principals, school counselors, instructional support teachers and classroom teachers also will be communicating and working collectively to fulfill all student transition needs throughout the initial months of the 2019-20 school year.
Building additions and enhancements
The district continues its ongoing work to renovate and upgrade the district’s aging infrastructure.
This September, students at the Wrightstown Elementary School will return to a renovated and bigger school following an $18 million renovation and expansion project.
During the 2018-19 school year, the school’s a little more than 200 students attended the former Richboro Middle School while work was being done on their school.
The work included the addition of a gymnasium, five new classrooms, general renovations and replacement of the electrical, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.
The construction project expands the formerly K to 4 school to a grade K to 6 school, bringing it in line with the district’s other elementary schools which are all grades K to 6. The two additional grade levels will add about 100 students to the school.
Students and parents attended an orientation session and meet and greet at the newly renovated school on August 29. The evening included a kindergarten orientation and tours of the facility for grades one to six.
In June, the Wrightstown school ceremoniously handed off the space at the former Richboro Middle School to Rolling Hills Elementary School, which will utilize the school during the coming school year while its school is undergoing a $24.9 million renovation project.
The work at Rolling Hills includes a three-classroom addition, new administration and nurses' offices, a new stage, a new cafeteria and replacement of the aging HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), plumbing and electrical systems.
The Richboro Middle School closed its doors at the end of the 2017-18 school year. It was replaced at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year by the renovated Holland Middle School and the opening of the new Newtown Middle School.
New Layer of Security
In an ongoing effort to secure its buildings, over the summer the district added a new layer of security to its front door access system at all district buildings.
Front doors will now be locked at all times requiring visitors to push an audio intercom system to communicate with the office, identify who they are and the reason for their visit in order to gain access.
The new, secure entry system includes enhanced features that Front Office staff will use to verify visitor identity prior to permitting front door entry.
Once inside, visitors will be asked to show valid identification, sign in as a building guest and complete the identification process to receive a visitor tag.
Back to School Nights
Back to School Nights are scheduled for September 3 at Goodnoe, Newtown, Sol Feinstone and Wrightstown elementary schools; September 4 at Churchville, Goodnoe, Hillcrest, Holland, Welch, Newtown, Richboro, Rolling Hills, Sol Feinstone and Wrightstown elementary schools; September 5 at Council Rock High School North and Churchville, Hillcrest, Holland, Welch, Richboro and Rolling Hills elementary schools; September 11 at Holland and Newtown Middle Schools; and on September 12 at Council Rock High School South.