Monday, July 24, 2000

Summer no break for school staff

Officials, workers continue laboring to prepare for fall

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Windsor Elementary Principal Leniese Fuqua spends nights dreaming about mission statements and facilities plans.

        She has spent all summer preparing newsletters, hiring staff and generally readying for the school year.

        “I hate to even leave,” Ms. Fuqua said. “I have so many things in the fire.”

        Ms. Fuqua is one of many school administrators in every district who has spent the summer working. Parents and others often assume schools go into hibernation over the summer, but many school officials are busy year-round.

        Ms. Fuqua is busier than many administrators because she has to revamp her school's mission and hire a new staff; Windsor is one of two Cincinnati Public Schools under a board of education-required redesign.

        Because of persistently poor student performance, the Walnut Hills school will reopen this fall with new staff and academic programs.

        Ms. Fuqua, who came from Gamble Elementaryin Westwood four months ago, must overhaul Windsor and make it successful.

        Most school administrators work a 12-month year, using summer months to hire new employees. They fit in vacation when they can.

        Gene Hutzelman, assistant superintendent for human resources at Hamilton City Schools in Butler County, said his summer may require him to hire 65 to 100 teachers and staff.

        One of his hiring tech niques is to begin building a pool of applicants in the spring after recruiting at colleges and universities, Mr. Hutzelman said. He then draws up a “hot list” of people to hire for whenever an opening arises.

        Teachers and administrators are also busy during the summer with professional development, said Chris Gramke, school and commu nity relations director for Campbell County Schools in Kentucky.

        For example, Campbell technology teachers will hold a computer camp this week, and on Aug. 10, the district has planned an instructional day for new teachers. Training and other specialized camps continue throughout the summer, Mr. Gramke said.

        It's a bit more complicated at Middletown City School District in Butler County.

        Middletown broke away from Middletown-Monroe City Schools this year to form its own district.

        In addition to hiring the regular batch of teachers, Middletown staff had to design a new logo, add it to letterhead, repaint its school buses with the district's new name and create a new Web site and newsletter.

        “We always have to work during the summer but this summer had us working more,” said Karen Jackson, the Middletown district's school and community relations specialist.

        Busy workers during the summer also include maintenance and custodial departments.

        “The minute schools shut down, they're on a mission,” said Linda Oda, community relations coordinator for Kings Local School District in Warren County.

        Tasks may include cleaning and painting hundreds of classrooms, stripping and waxing classroom and hallway floors, refinishing gym floors, trimming and spraying shrubbery, cleaning furniture and upholstery, testing thousands of lightbulbs, checking hundreds of toilets for breakdowns, repairing roofs, inspecting buses, preparing athletic fields, changing ceiling tiles, inspecting boilers and sham pooing thousands of feet of carpet.

        Kings also is overseeing the construction of two new elementaries, and renovating and enlarging a third.

        “A lot of people don't realize how much goes on during the summer,” said Kings Business Manager Bobby Grigsby.“You kind of cringe when you see how much you have left to do.”


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