For Schenectady Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring, the first day of classes is his favorite day of the year — more so than any other holiday.
Capital Region students head back to classes this week. Spring, who started his job in June, called the first day a “day of renewal.”
He enjoys seeing students walk into school wearing their best outfits. “They’re eager to meet their new teacher. They’re eager to meet their friends.”
Also, much like on Opening Day of the baseball season, everyone is a winner, according to Spring.
“Every kid has an average of 100. They have an ‘A’ on the first day they walk into the building,” he said.
Some students are walking into different buildings. Oneida Middle School closed at the end of June and those students have been sent to other buildings, including Mont Pleasant Middle School and the K-8 facilities of Central Park International Magnet School, Paige and Zoller.
“We had an awful lot of moving to do over the summer — relocating equipment and classroom material to accommodate the addition of seventh- and eighth-graders at a couple of schools,” he said.
Springs has toured the buildings and said they look ready. There have been some behind-the-scenes work in many of them that may not be readily visible, including new fire alarms and plumbing and electrical work. Much of the visible work was done to Mont Pleasant Middle School to get it ready to accommodate the additional students.
Elsewhere in Schenectady County, new faces are in new places. Peter Bednarek is the new principal at Scotia-Glenville High School, replacing Lynda Castronovo, who retired in June. Bednarek comes to the district from Galway Junior-Senior High School, where he was principal and athletic director.
John Geniti is no longer the interim principal but the permanent principal at Lincoln Elementary School. He is giving up his duties as athletic director. Mark McCarthy, a math teacher and head of the department at the high school, is the new full-time principal at Glen-Worden Elementary. His academic head responsibilities are being assumed by Randy Jenkins, administrator for science. McCarthy replaces Maureen Long, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, who had been doing both jobs during the 2011-2012 year.
Also, Robert Cosmer, the former assistant principal at the high school, is the new middle school principal. He replaces Gary Comley, a former Schenectady administrator who held the position since December when Shari Keller retired. Tom Fyvie will replace Cosmer’s role as assistant principal at the high school.
There will also be some new principals in the Mohonasen Central School District. Bradt Primary School Principal Diane McIver will spend the 2012-13 year on special assignment, in charge of implementing the new teacher and principal and evaluation system. She is being replaced for the year by elementary school teacher Katria Hitrick.
Pinewood Intermediate School Principal Michele Whitley has been named academic administrator for literacy K-12. She is filling the job formerly held by Lisa Cutting, who moved up to assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction when Patrick McGrath left to become superintendent of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District.
McGrath has spent the past few months settling into his new job.
“I’m very excited. It’s been a great summer getting to know everyone here. It’s a fantastic place. I can’t wait to see the kids and get things started,” he said.
McGrath said the staff has been busy drafting the teacher evaluation system and developing curriculum, implementing the new federal physical education grant and hiring about 25 staff members to fill retirements and resignations.
The new hires include Christopher Abdoo, who takes over as assistant superintendent for business. He comes from the Rome City School District, where he was business administrator.
Staff has been planning for the staff’s opening day on Tuesday. This year’s theme is: “together we thrive.” Even with the uncertainty in the economy and new education regulations, McGrath said Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is poised to exceed the challenges.
Like Schenectady, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has had some behind-the-scenes work at its buildings, including a new boiler and roof repair at Charlton Heights and upgrading wireless capabilities at all three elementary schools to make Internet connections faster for wireless devices.
Cobleskill-Richmondville Superintendent Lynn Macan said her district has also been busy creating the new teacher evaluation plan and developing student learning goals. Also, there were various capital projects. She is excited about three newly renovated baseball and softball fields at the high school that had been damaged during last year’s flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
The cost of the work was $100,000. Twelve percent of the expense was picked up by local taxpayers and the rest from state and FEMA aid.
Macan is also excited about a new career program at the high school. Special education students will be running a bakery and car detailing business out of the high school. This is replacing a BOCES program that had been canceled.
“It’s great for them to be employment ready when they leave the high school,” she said.
Macan said she is eager for school to start. “It’s time. We want our kids back. We’re ready to go.”