Most Kings County schools start within the next few weeks, and the excitement about a new school year has already begun.
Here’s a look at what some of the districts are up to this year, including staff changes, facilities projects and what superintendents are looking forward to most.
Bill Fishbough, superintendent of Hanford Joint Union High School District, said based on feeder school patterns and the students currently enrolled, the district is anticipating about 3,850 students, which is up slightly from last year.
Along with 22 newly hired teachers, Fishbough said administrative changes include former Hanford West High School principal Darin Parson becoming principal at Sierra Pacific High School while Marrio Walker takes over Hanford West as principal; Hanford High’s new learning directors include Yolanda Bell and former teacher Ellice Blevins, while former learning director Dean Miller moves to Hanford West in the same position; and Courtney Collishaw is the new district social worker.
Some new projects the district has going are a new agriculture farm that should be complete by the fall, where students will be able to house their animal projects for the 2018 Kings Fair. Fishbough also said the district is working on a remodel project for Hanford West’s kitchen and cafeteria that will begin in the winter, and there are plans for construction of an administration/library building and a swim complex at Sierra Pacific High School.
Fishbough said he looks forward to the continued work by staff in their professional learning communities to create an environment where all students are learning at high levels.
“The focus this year is on continuing the work to beef up our current curriculum in all areas to promote high levels of learning and to offer intervention opportunities for those students who need the extra assistance in order to be successful,” Fishbough said.
Joy Gabler, superintendent of Hanford Elementary School District, said the district is projecting 6,109 students this year, an increase of 82 students from the end of the last school year. She said there are 29 new teachers and one new nurse starting with the district this year.
Gabler said administrative changes include Rick Johnson as the new John F. Kennedy Junior High School principal, while former principal Jason Strickland was promoted as the director of school climate, child welfare and attendance at the district office; and Jennifer Levinson as the new learning director at Simas Elementary, while previous learning director Robert Heugly is now the vice principal at John F. Kennedy.
Facilities projects that are already in the works as a result of the passage of HESD’s Bond Measure U last November include a new administration/library building that is under way at Monroe Elementary and work that will soon begin at Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln Elementary schools, replacing portable classrooms with permanent ones, Gabler said.
Gabler said she looks forward to the return of the students and teachers and all the work that will take place across the district this year. She said the district will continue to focus on supporting students’ academic achievement and growth with a broad educational program, while also making progress on state-adopted assessments.
“As a district, we will continue to work on developing our knowledge and understanding of all standards with a continued focus on the Next Generation Science Standards,” Gabler said.
Debbie Muro, superintendent of Lemoore Union High School District, said Lemoore High School is expecting 1,929 students —slightly higher than last year’s number — while Lemoore Middle College High School and Jamison High School’s enrollment numbers are roughly the same as last year.
Muro said there are no new administrators in the district, but 12 new teachers were hired at Lemoore High and Lemoore Middle College High schools.
Some new happenings at the district include the opening of Lemoore Online Preparatory High School, which Muro said is a new opportunity to serve all types of students. She also said Lemoore High’s main building was repainted over the summer and looks “amazing.”
Muro said the primary focuses this school year include bond projects to repair and upgrade facilities and the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program to ensure students receive the support they need to be in the classroom and participate.
“As always, we are looking forward to safe, fun-filled, educational school year for our students,” Muro said. “We are [also] excited about having our third year of students in our Careers in Education, Engineering, and Ag Design and Fabrication pathways.”
Cheryl Hunt, superintendent of Lemoore Elementary School District, said the district is currently expecting 3,200 students, which is on par with last year. She said the district continues to accept kindergarten registration and new student enrollment at the district office, and registration at the school sites also starts today.
Hunt said administrative staff remains the same, with the exception of one new district nurse added for the school year. She said she is also excited to welcome 20 new teachers to the district.
As a team, Hunt said the district has dialed in its focus areas to “teaching, learning and inspiring our staff and students.” She said the goal is to ensure students’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and technology, in addition to a safe and nurturing environment.
Speaking of safety, Hunt said the district has invested in new surveillance equipment districtwide to support safety efforts because the current equipment was not meeting district needs. She also said the district has used Proposition 39 dollars to install energy efficient lighting throughout all classrooms and exterior hallways.
As part of the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, Hunt said transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students will receive tablets this school year.
“This is the final implementation as part of our phased-in approach to all students, [transitional kindergarten through eighth grade], having technology devices to support the curriculum and instruction delivered by our teachers,” Hunt said.
Rich Merlo, superintendent of Corcoran Unified School District said it’s too soon to tell, but he does not see a significant shift in enrollment this year from last year. Last year, the district had around 3,300 students.
Merlo said there are new teachers at each of the district’s sites and one new vice principal at John Muir Middle School.
An especially exciting event for the school district is the students and staff of John Muir Middle School being selected to take part in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 12 to the International Space Station. The students’ experiments will take place on earth and on the spacecraft in space in order to compare gravity versus non-gravity results.
The district’s theme this year is “Year of the Learner,” and Merlo said he looks forward to the students’ continued growth and progress as 21st century learners.
Merlo said the staff is being trained on incorporating personalized learning at the schools, and some of the teachers are learning how to integrate coding for the kindergarten through eighth-grade students.