All three Black River school buildings will see changes this school year.
The elementary school, headed by principal Becky Luth, replaced six teaching positions and added one new preschool teacher.
Black River has always had an inclusion preschool for students with special needs but this year it is bringing back public preschool for “typical” students.
Inclusion students have school four days a week. Three-year-olds in the public preschool will meet twice weekly and four-year-olds will attend school three days a week.
Also new this year are Chromebooks for third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. Each grade will get a cart of 30 of the laptops to share and rotate between classrooms.
“That’s new and exciting for Black River so that they can get their hands on technology a little bit more,” said Luth.
Middle school principal Tammy Starkey replaced three teachers this year, including the instrumental band director and art teacher.
A new STEM class is also being offered as part of Project Lead the Way, a non-profit organization that develops science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum.
The new program was primarily grant-funded.
“This STEM class is exciting because it’s brand new,” Starkey said. “All students in grades six, seven, and eight will have the opportunity to take this class.”
Middle school students will also have the opportunity to earn high school credits by taking algebra I, physical education, and technology courses.
Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders will also have access to Chromebooks. Each grade will have a set of 30 to share.
High school principal Martin Yoder has had his hands full this summer with several upgrades to his building.
Asbestos has been removed from the ceiling, new drop ceilings were installed, and old-style lights have been replaced with energy efficient bulbs. Asbestos was also removed from some of the floors and new tile was installed.
With the money the school is saving from the new lights, the plan is to install a heating and cooling unit in each classroom. That work should start in September and be completed in October.
The Pirates gymnasium received a lot of work this summer. The ceiling and walls were repainted, the floor was refinished, new telescoping volleyball poles were installed, and new bleachers were installed.
The high school is also adding five more college credit classes this year. Courses include business management and drafting and technical drawing. Sixteen courses through Akron University were offered last year.
“We have the potential that if a student really wanted to get an associate’s degree by the time they graduated that’s a definite possibility,” Yoder said.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.