A touch of class

A touch of class
In the last week when school bells ring for the first time in the Vermillion School District Aug. 22, teachers in the city's two elementary buildings, the middle school and the high school have been hustling.

Their work begins long before the students are greeted at the threshold of each building's front door.

The challenge is to bring order to a chaotic atmosphere. Classrooms have been turned topsy-turvy over the summer.

Desks have been removed to allow floors to be vacuumed; a variety of learning materials that adorned walls were removed at the end of the school year last spring, and must be replaced.

The biggest chore this month is being tackled by a number of teachers at Jolley Elementary who will be instructing youngsters from brand new classrooms.

Contractors have met deadlines and completed a new addition to the school. The building features eight new rooms. An existing classroom has also been remodeled and now serves as a new rest room.

"Everything is done except the interior doors," Elementary Principal Bob Bowker said. "They will be here Sept. 3."

Workers were busy inside the new building this week, laying carpet, stringing television and electric lines, and finishing up some of the last pieces of interior construction.

Hallways were still stacked with tables, chairs and desks early last week, waiting to be moved into the new rooms.

"The teachers have five days until open house to get organized," Bowker said Aug. 14. "That's just a matter of them using hours of their own time to organize their rooms and their desks.

"It takes time, and the amazing thing is the amount of time the teachers have given this past month to get organized," he said.

The addition will move second grade, which has been housed at Austin Elementary, to Jolley Elementary. The move will free up space at Austin for larger incoming classes as well as programs now facing a space crunch. Total enrollment at Jolley will be approximately 400 students.

Early Childhood education and Head Start programs also have been moved from the middle school to Austin.

"That's a positive thing," Bowker said. "It's nice to have kids who have developmental delays in the same setting as our kindergarten-aged and first grade-aged kids. It really helps us make Austin a primary education center, where we can keep all the youngest kids together."

The Vermillion School Board used enrollment projections earlier this year to finalize its decision to add over 9,000 square feet to Jolley Elementary.

If estimates made earlier this year are accurate, Austin will increase from 321 students in the 2006-07 school year, to 338 in 2007-08. Numbers will then ease back down to 326.

As those students move through the upper elementary grades, Jolley will increase from 296 students in 2008 to 321 in 2009, 338 in 2010 and then 326 in 2011.

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