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Welcome back students: A primer to the school year in Shelby County

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Here's a Q&A on the key issues facing students, parents

By Todd Martin

As schools open today at 7:30 a.m. for elementary, 8:30 for high schools and 8:40 for middle schools, students, teachers and administrators will see a lot of new faces, some familiar faces in new places and some old places updated with new looks and a lot of new technology.

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So, here are few of the changes, upgrades, updates and policy changes this year for Shelby County Public Schools.

Which schools have new principals?

There are four new principals in the district this year, including one Shelby County native that has found himself in a top position.

Steve Coleman, who returned to SCHS in 2000, is moving on to the Education Center @ Cropper this year as the school’s new principal.

He believes the alternative school, with its smaller class sizes, provides more individual attention and “a place where we create a sense of success and where we offer experiences where they can be successful and develop a higher self-esteem.”

His goal is to help students learn to achieve and help themselves.

“We will closely monitor progress, provide continued support and ensure we have an open door for those students who need our services,” he said.

Other new assistant principals in the district are:

  • Seth Green — West Middle
  • Myron Montgomery — East Middle
  • Henry Robbins — Shelby County
  • Wright Elementary still has an assistant position to be filled

How many new teachers are there?

70 – varying from 2 at Simpsonville Elementary and The Shelby County Area Technology Center (lowest) to 12 at Collins and 17 at Shelby County High School.

Which teachers retired?

6 teachers and one assistant principal retired this year.

  • Mike Breidert — SCHS
  • Michael Pippin — SCHS
  • Cathy Redmon — SCHS (assistant principal)
  • Jennifer Slaughter — Southside
  • Anna Smythe — West
  • Sharon Stodghill — Painted Stone
  • Vicki Wesley — District (Clear Creek and Southside elementary schools)

What’s the biggest curriculum change?

Statewide

The state will have new English/language arts and mathematics standards this year in line with the Next Generation Accountability System. The new curriculum is based on end-of-course assessments. The Kentucky Board of Education recommends that districts make the end-of-course tests count for 20 percent of the final grade. Superintendent James Neihof has stated that he will recommend to the board that the district begin at 10 percent, where end-of-course tests have been valued, and gradually work up to 20 percent.

Local

The addition of the Accelerated Academy at both Collins and Shelby County High School has made the biggest waves for students. Of the 115 that qualified, 71 freshmen — in two class at Collins and one at SCHS — will wade into the most rigorous schedule administrators could put together. The students will begin school with a zero hour class, which will see this committed group starting school at 7:30 with an extra class than the normal 7-period day. The freshman will also start their high school year with AP courses, and have the potential to earn up to 51 college credit hours over their four-year career.

Are dress codes still the same?

Shelby County High School has undergone the biggest change in dress code this year. The school has stuck with the chino, or khaki, pants, but has loosened restrictions on shirts.

“The only big change is that we now allow appropriate T-shirts,” said Principal Eddie Oakley. “If they don’t know what appropriate is by high school-age, then I guess we’ll have to tell them.”

Oakley went on to describe the shirts as covering from the neck through the mid-section and with appropriate writing, like “Shelby County, John Deere or something like that,” he said.

The goal is to give the students a little more variety and keep parents from having to go out and purchase new collared shirts.

“Everyone has appropriate T-shirts, so we thought we’d give them the chance to wear them to school,” Oakley said.

What schools have new, remodeled facilities?

The downstairs of Shelby County High School got the biggest upgrades this year. After the freshman area upstairs was upgraded last year, the downstairs got the full treatment this year with fresh paint, flooring and carpeting.

“It looks great,” said Principal Eddie Oakley. “It’s first class all over.”

The school also received some new technology, with SMART boards now in nearly every room, and the library received some new technology, including its own SMART board, and new carpet. And there were big upgrades and updates in the choral, band rooms and cafeteria.

While the SCHS upgrades were the most significant, SCPS did install some new SMART board and a some other technology upgrades across the district, and Heritage and SCHS had some roof work done.

Also, Collins students and parents be mindful of the new light at Discovery Boulevard and U.S. 60. The light was installed this summer and should make it easier to turn into the school from the eastbound lanes and to turn east when leaving the school.

Work will also get underway sometime this school year on the new Southside Elementary School. The new school will be located behind the current Southside