COVINGTON - More than 19,000 students in Newton County's public schools headed to classes Monday after a two-month summer hiatus filled with family vacations, summer camps and, possibly, summer reading.
Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley said the first day of school went well, after visiting several schools on the inaugural day of the 2009-10 term.
"The staff and administrators are to be congratulated on a smooth start of this school year," he said Monday afternoon. "Some adjustments in class loads will be made as the enrollments stabilize. The staff of the two new facilities and the two theme schools have worked very hard to be ready for the students today. All of our employees are to be commended for their dedicated efforts to make this a positive start for our students."
In a welcome message to students, parents and staff, Whatley said although students were out for the summer, system workers kept busy to make sure the return was pleasant for everyone.
"We have focused on staffing our schools; reviewing data and determining school improvement plans; cleaning, painting and preparing our school buildings; providing professional training activities for teachers, administrators, and support staff; and purchasing and receiving instructional materials, supplies and textbooks," he said.
More than 100 new certified staff members began the school year at the school system's 24 facilities, ready to educate and improve learning in NCSS, Whatley said.
"Our students must be prepared, not only for school and state mandated test performance, but also for success in the work force, or in college/technical school," he said. "Our school and system level instructional, support and administrative staffs consist of over 2,750 employees, including teachers, paraprofessionals, media specialists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and administrative staff members. Many of these individuals have been enrolled this summer in classes that will further enhance their professional skills. In addition, many teachers have worked in their classrooms preparing for students to have the best school year ever."
This year, NCSS also celebrated the opening of two new schools - Live Oak Elementary School on Kirkland Road and Liberty Middle School on Salem Road. Parent-involvement theme schools also opened in Fairview Elementary and Clements Middle school buildings. The district also opened a new wing at Alcovy High School.
"Despite the economic challenges we face, our mission is to meet the educational needs of our students in a safe and orderly environment," Whatley said. "As a community, our most important assets are our children. They deserve the best education we can provide. Their futures and ours depend on that."
Newton County joined several other metro Atlanta public school systems that also returned to school Monday, including Henry, Cherokee and Rockdale county public schools.
Other school districts like Atlanta Public Schools and Decatur City Schools and school systems in Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties will wait another week to begin classes, and a few others will wait until later in the week to start the new school year.