BCS readies for first day of school, starting with parade

GETTING READY: Baldwin Community Schools Superintendent Stiles Simmons speaks to a crowd of staff and other community leaders during the BCS opening day ceremony on Wednesday. The district’s first day of school is Tuesday and it will start with a parade through downtown Baldwin. (Star photo/Kyle Leppek)
GETTING READY: Baldwin Community Schools Superintendent Stiles Simmons speaks to a crowd of staff and other community leaders during the BCS opening day ceremony on Wednesday. The district’s first day of school is Tuesday and it will start with a parade through downtown Baldwin. (Star photo/Kyle Leppek)

BALDWIN — In a mere matter of days, students will begin filling the halls of Baldwin Community Schools.

The district’s first day of school is Tuesday. Although students will likely spend their first day getting back into the rhythm of things, district officials have been working throughout the summer to make sure the 2013-14 school year is successful.

Heading into the new school year, BCS Superintendent Stile Simmons said he is anticipating the enrollment rate to stay the same as it has. However, an increase in the number of kindergarten students and other factors could change that.

“We have seen a spike in enrollment at the high school level just over the past few days,” Simmons said. “We do know that the word about the promise is getting out, and more parents are inquiring about the promise and how their student can achieve the promise. Then people understand that our academic levels are increasing and also people understand that we are working very hard to make this a very safe, supportive learning environment.”

Making sure everything is in place for the upcoming school year has meant daily work throughout the summer, but Simmons simplifies all the work done into two achievements: Taking care of business items, and prioritization.

Throughout the summer, the district took care of all its business items — like negotiating and approving teacher, support staff and non-union contracts. By doing this, the district and staff aren’t commiting time and energy during the school year on the task, Simmons said.

The district also spent time during the summer to list its academic priorities in both the elementary and secondary buildings. By compiling information from staff and other teams, the district identified key academic areas to focus on during the school year. By listing no more than five priorities for the year, the district and staff has a direction and can focus on achieving those goals, Simmons added.

Additionally, the district has made technology and facility upgrades during the summer. It also has hired new staff, including a world language teacher who also will teach drama and possibly start a quiz bowl club in the district.

While district work has continued all summer, things have really picked up since the staff reported back to work on Aug. 19. The staff was scheduled nine professional development days leading up to the new school year, and on Wednesday, the district held its opening day ceremony for staff and other community leaders.

“We are really excited about the fact that we have had this opportunity for the staff to come in early and participate in meaningful, balanced and productive professional development,” Simmons said. “We really believe this is going to help us get off to a really great start this year.”

In addition to the professional development days, the district plans to start off the year in a big way that the community hasn’t seen in years.

On Tuesday, the district will start off the 2013-14 school year with a parade through downtown Baldwin. Dial-A-Ride will transport students to the old “Jerry’s” parking lot — or parents are asked to drop off their students at the same location — and the parade will leave at 7:30 a.m. with the marching band directed by Brian Parent leading the group. The community is asked to gather for the parade and cheer on the students as they pass.

Following the parade, parents are invited to join their students for breakfast at the school.