With the new Warren County Middle School nearing its first day in operation, Superintendent Gregory Drescher said Warren County Public Schools is prepared for the start of the year on Tuesday.
The schools are fully staffed, Drescher said, having filled 70 positions over the summer. The new middle school caused the division to hire more people than would have been hired in a more typical summer.
Drescher said that in the course of the summer, the division replaced 57 teachers. The remaining 13 hires are for the new middle school.
“It was that many more teachers that we had to hire and to fill those positions” because of the new middle school, Drescher said. “So it was that much more of a challenge.”
In order to deal with the additional hires, Drescher said the school division began its hiring process earlier than normal.
“We started interviewing last winter,” Drescher said. “So February, March we were already interviewing for this year.”
Drescher said that the division recruited its hires largely from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Virginia colleges currently don’t have enough teachers to fill Virginia public school openings, leaving divisions to look outside of the state, he said.
“Everybody has to go somewhere else other than Virginia just to find teachers,” Drescher said.
He said that Pennsylvania is a common choice, because there are more available teachers in the state than there are job openings.
There are a number of other major changes to Warren County Schools from last year, besides the new middle school. Over the summer, the division renovated Ressie Jeffries Elementary School.
As of Wednesday, those renovations were almost complete.
“They are just on the final stages,” Drescher said on Wednesday. “Teachers are in the building, people can go in the building now.”
As part of those renovations, the district had asbestos removed from some of the school’s floors.
The division is also staggering its school start times. The middle schools and high schools will start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m., while the elementary school will start at 9 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m.
Those new times are designed to reduce the number of buses and bus drivers the division needs, according to a proposal for the changed schedule.
The new bus schedules are available at http://tiny.cc/y692my.
Drescher said they expect to have around 5,400 students, in line with the total from previous years. The district has been adding around 10 or 15 students each year, he said.
But, Drescher said, “You don’t ever know the exact numbers until the first day of school.”