School is back in session, which means School Committee discussions are back in full swing. One topic of interest this fall could be whether it's time for the committee to consider redistricting again.
School Committee member Dennis Forgue brought up the idea of redistricting at the committee's Aug. 26 meeting, saying South Elementary School is continually overcrowded.
South Elementary has the highest average class size of all Andover elementary schools, with an average of 23.6 students in classes kindergarten through fifth-grade.
School leaders will receive a more complete picture on the number of children at each school during the first week in October. However, Andover's projected enrollment for 2008-09 was presented at the Aug. 26 meeting by Superintendent Claudia Bach.
Enrollment is up by 19 students at the elementary level, and the middle schools have seen an increase of 21 students. Figures for the high school aren't finalized until school starts, Bach said.
The highest jump in enrollment is in Shawsheen School's all-day kindergarten program.
Here are a few more issues from the last meeting, which covered a variety of topics, from the aging ceiling at Doherty Middle School's auditorium to the approval of the 2008-09 Andover High School student handbook.
New leaders: Bach introduced to the committee Andover's new administrators, including five new principals, an athletic director and a business administrator. Each new employee stood as Bach gave a short introduction, talking about his or her background.
Bus-only half-hour: Steve Murray, principal of West Middle School, suggested the need for new signs at his school on Shawsheen Road. The committee approved the temporary installment of signs reading "Do not enter between 1:55 and 2:25 p.m." on the road that leads from Andover High School, by the skate part, around the side of West Middle and onto Shawsheen Road. The road will now be open during that half-hour to school buses only.
Administrators have to stand in front of the school during dismissal every day, to make sure students are safe getting on buses, Murray said. Traffic coming from Andover High poses a problem. Two middle school students were almost hit last year, when a car hopped the curb and drove up on the grass, he said.
The new signs were approved by a unanimous vote. They will be up on a trial basis, until Oct. 31, to see if they help with the traffic issues. If they do, they'll remain.
Free and green: Through a special program, National Grid gave the school district new, high-efficiency light bulbs at no cost. They were installed in school buildings by Andover's Plant and Facilities Department Director Joe Piantedosi, and will save the district $132 per classroom in reduced utility bills throughout the year, Bach said.
Fresh faces: More than 50 new teachers have been hired for the 2008-09 school year, according to Bach, who met with them all earlier in the week with School Committee Chairwoman Debra Rahmin Silberstein.
"They will make us a better, stronger district," Bach said.
Roofing record: Four acres, or 170,000 square feet, of new roofing has been installed at schools this summer, according to Piantedosi. The new roofing is special "white roofing," he said, which reflects heat during the summer. The town should see lower utility bills.
"All the new roofs have heavier, more efficient insulation as well," he said. "This is the most roofing work I've ever done in one summer."
Trips: Several overnight field trips were approved by the School Committee. The following field trips are all considered educational, Bach said.
West Elementary fifth-grade trip to Nature's Classroom, Yarmouthport, Oct. 14-17; requested by Erica Saum and Liz Roos.
High Plain fifth-grade field trip to Nature's Classroom, Greenfield, N.H., Oct. 28-31; requested by Brenda O'Brien.
Doherty Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., Nov. 1-4, to view monuments, museums and historic sites; requested by John Givens and Theresa McGuinness-Darby.
Doherty Middle School eighth-grade ski/snowboard weekend in Quebec City and Mount Saint Anne, Jan. 16-18; requested by John Givens and Theresa McGuinness-Darby.
Doherty Middle School sixth-grade ski/snowboard weekend to Bretton Woods, N.H., Jan. 23-25; requested by John Givens and Theresa McGuinness-Darby.
Doherty Middle School seventh-grade ski/snowboard weekend in Sunday River, Maine, Feb. 6-8; requested by John Givens and Theresa McGuinness-Darby.