As parents and teachers snapped back-to-school photos on Tuesday, Sept. 3, families around Indian River School District remarked on changes to bus times.
For most IRSD schools, the school day was indeed shortened by about 10 minutes.
Most schools start at the same time, or a few minutes earlier. Then they dismiss about 10 minutes earlier.
But the most significant changes were at Georgetown Elementary, North Georgetown Elementary and Sussex Central High School, where schedules were re-stacked to allow for a three-tiered busing system.
The earliest school time is 7:35 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at SCHS. The latest time is 8:45 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. at Georgetown Elementary. Most other schools are within five minutes of those times, except for the special schools and North Georgetown Elementary.
IRSD implemented a two-tier system several years ago, to combat the shortage of bus drivers. The three-tier system was approved for those schools this summer. It was a tough decision, since the hours push close to the contractual times that staff are required to be in the building.
“Essentially why this is needed is the lack of bus drivers, lack of buses,” said Assistant Superintendent Jay Owens. “If growth stays the same … we might have to go to a three-tiered system” in other locations.
“One of the reasons we have such a hard time with transportation is we are so geographically broad: 365 square miles,” said Superintendent Mark Steele.
There are still snow days built into the calendar. Since 2014, IRSD has built in extra minutes into the school day, after a particularly brutal winter closed school for least eight weather days. But more recently, mild weather meant they didn’t miss as much school as anticipated, so IRSD released school earlier in June. They still hit their required educational hours early, but some contracted workers, such as bus drivers, felt slighted by their lost paychecks.
Winter break will be two full weeks this year, including weekends. Notable school closings include:
• Nov. 8 to 11;
• Nov. 27 to Dec. 1;
• Dec. 21 to Jan. 5;
• Jan. 17 to 20;
• April 10 to April 19.
The last regular day of school is Monday, June 15.
IRSD announces new principals
Every school year sees a shuffle of principals and assistant principals. Here are changes for 2019-2020:
• David Carter is a new assistant principal at Indian River High School. (He is an IRSD graduate, and is coming to the IRSD after working in the Lake Forest School District.)
• Assistant principal Matt Keller switched from Indian River to Phillip C. Showell Elementary School. He takes the place of Jenna Argo, who switched from PCS to East Millsboro Elementary School.
• Corey Dietrich moved up from teaching at Phillip Showell to be assistant principal at North Georgetown Elementary School.
• Samantha Lougheed became NGE principal but will be on personal leave until April 1. Assistant Principal Sarah Green comes from East Millsboro to be acting principal (and will be compensated as such during the temporary assignment).
• Millsboro Middle School’s Bradford Breasure stepped up from assistant principal to become principal (he was acting principal last year when principal Jessica Jackson transferred to become assistant principal at Georgetown Elementary School). Robert Syphard joins Chris Costello as the second of two assistant principals there.
• The Kindergarten Center was closed in Georgetown, due to enrollment growth of the regular schools there. So principal Janet Hickman will oversee the expanded IRSD Early Learning Center at Frankford’s Carver Center.
Parent Center services return to individual schools
With more students coming into the school district, the district’s Parent Center was converted into classroom space this summer.
Previously, families could find basic services (such as a food and clothing pantry, parenting workshops or job searches) at the Parent Center at the G.W. Carver Educational Center in Frankford.
“The Parent Center is kind of being dissolved, and the responsibilities for some of the counseling and services I used to provide will be directly provided by the schools,” said coordinator Michele Murphy. “But Adult & Community Education and College & Career readiness will go on as it did in the past.”
The IRSD food pantry will still be open every Friday at the Carver Center in Frankford. Families can come for free supplies once a month. Students from Howard T. Ennis School will help, since they’re already running a thrift shop next door.
Now at district headquarters in Selbyville, Murphy still oversees the IRSD Adult & Community Education, in which the general public can join activities including low-cost aerobics classes and sports leagues. Younger students can take sports clinics and babysitter safety classes. High-schoolers can take scholarship and financial aid workshops.
Parents can continue to use their children’s school counselors for some types of assistance.
“If parents needed to be referred out to an external agency — like they can’t pay their utility bill, or information for counseling or some additional educational services … mostly it’s just referring them to external supports.”
The Early Learning Center will still provide its families with supports, such as with finance or cooking classes, as required, especially in Project Village.
No longer tied to her desk, Murphy said she is excited to work directly at the various district schools.
She’ll still play a major role in the mentor programs.
Michele Murphy can be reached at Indian River Educational Complex (IREC) at (302) 436-1000 or email@example.com.
Parents can use online bulletin board
To save time and paper, the district now posts many of its fliers online. Everything can be viewed on the IRSD website, with or without a subscription, through a service called “Peachjar.”
“We just want parents to know if they don’t do Peachjar, they’re missing a lot of information,” Murphy said.
Fliers are organized by school and by district, at https://www.irsd.net/ (click the round “E-Fliers” button).
By Laura Walter