Lancer Letter – Empty Halls

Submitted by Richard Scaletta, GM School District

The hallways are empty. I looked outside the Education Center door into the high school and the hallways were empty. That means one thing: school will be starting soon.

You see, in the summer, the first thing that happens is all the furniture in classrooms is moved into the halls. Then, one by one, our staff cleans the rooms and scrubs the carpets. When every room has been done, the furniture is moved back into the rooms so the hallway carpets can be cleaned. That means summer is ending.

This time of year, many people ask me if we’re ready to start school. I usually say something like, “Yes, we’ll be ready” or “Whether we’re ready or not, it’s going to happen!” What I’m actually thinking is, “Oh my gosh, WILL we be ready?” My mind this year races to the fact that we still have some positions to fill in the next three weeks.

It’s been a busy summer of hiring. We hired nine new teachers and due to a very recent unexpected resignation, we have one more to hire before school opens. (This is a high number of teacher hires for us in a year.) We hired a new administrator at the middle school and replaced three secretarial positions in the district. We’re still looking to fill come custodial positions as well as a number of personal care aids to work with some of our special needs students. And, as always, we need substitute teachers and bus drivers.

The big project which you’ve probably noticed is the new roof at Edinboro Elementary school. The original projected completion date was August 7 which has been moved to August 17 due to weather. Teachers return on August 25 so hopefully, it will be done by then. We’ve had a really excellent group of contractors on this project and they’ve worked very well with us so even if the project runs a little late, we’ll be very functional, I’m sure.

The performing arts wing was finished at the end of the school year and the rather big project of getting everything moved in and organized as well as the construction of costuming racks is nearly completed, just in time for the musical theater season to begin. As usual, our maintenance department has been quite busy with repairs and improvements and contractors have been busy repairing concrete and asphalt on our campuses.

Extremely busy this summer has been our technology department. They are preparing 1400 mobile student devices as well as over 100 devices for teachers and office personnel in our two elementary schools and middle school. The project also includes updating display capabilities in the classrooms. We were able to work a deal this year where we were able to update all the technology in those three buildings without increasing our annual outlay of capital for technology. It is a daunting task for our tech department, the largest every faced, but they are up to the task. Meanwhile, our technology vanguard has been busy preparing training for teachers on the new equipment.

I want to mention one really cool thing in conjunction with our technology upgrade this year. Since we don’t let students up to grade 8 take their iPads home, they must be stored each night in a device that will charge them. Because this takes a unique cabinet to do this task, they are very pricey, anywhere from $800 to $3200 each! One day, our tech director, Jeremy Dylewski, was driving by Great Lakes Case and Cabinet in Edinboro and wondered, “I wonder if they have a suitable storage cabinet for us.” What happened is a fantastic example of private/public partnership and buying local. Great Lake Case and Cabinet worked with Jeremy to design a drawer that fits into existing cabinets in our classrooms that will store and charge the iPads at night. Not only does this save valuable classroom space by not needing a cart in the room, they did it at one–third the cost of the cabinets we were going to buy!!

The marching band just completed their two week band camp. This year during two days of their camp, the marching band hosted a traveling Drum and Bugle Corps named Genesis from Austin, Texas. During their time with our band, they offered clinics to both students and staff and, our students got to see the high degree of discipline and commitment it takes to produce a high quality production on the field. Fall sports have been busy with pre-season conditioning and official sports camps begin August 14.

As always, it’s been a busy summer. Writing about all that HAS been accomplished helps alleviate some of the angst around what still needs to be done, so thanks for reading. And, don’t worry, the halls emptied of furniture will soon be filled with students. We’ll be ready!

The Lancer Letter is a weekly editorial by Richard Scaletta, Superintendent of Schools, General McLane School District. Opinions expressed are Mr. Scaletta’s views on the issues and subjects of discussion, and not necessarily those of or our sponsors.

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