Superintendent Doug Newcombe spent Tuesday checking in with schools throughout the Bay City District. WNEM caught up with him at Kolb Elementary to hear what he had to say about the start of a new year.
"It's exciting. I mean we always love September because we get the kids back. And it's just really cool to have the kids back. So far we're off to a pretty good start. The buildings are filled up and we are going through right now and making sure that we're meeting any of the needs that we are finding out about," Newcombe said.
With every school year there are new challenges and goals for the district. Newcombe tells WNEM that this year is no different. Newcombe says the biggest challenge facing his staff this year is meeting the new requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
"We had some schools that met those challenges last year. There's other schools where we have some work to do. One of the things we're doing to address these requirements is to have year-end exams at the middle school level starting in eighth grade. We are looking into after school and summer school programs for students who are struggling in their courses. And possibly even alternative education if we need to," Newcombe said.
Newcombe tells WNEM these changes will help these students succeed when they move on to high school and strive to meet the new requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
"Beyond just meeting the criteria for the sake of meeting the criteria we want to make sure that our kids are academically prepared for the challenges that they meet when they go on to higher grades or go on to college or go on to the workforce. We want all of our kids to be successful," Newcombe said.
Smaller class sizes - especially from kindergarten to third grade is another emphasis for the upcoming school year. The goal is to keep class sizes to around 25 students or less. Newcombe tells WNEM he believes his younger students will benefit from this new initiative.
"With younger kids it's really essential if we have lower class sizes, they get a lot more intensive instruction when there's smaller numbers with the teachers. So you know, in some cases where we can lower the class sizes we do that. If there are space issues where we can't lower the class sizes then we put more than one teacher in that room," Newcombe said.
There's also an emphasis on classroom technology, with every school having a Wi-Fi connection this year. Newcombe tells WNEM pupils will see more iPads and other mobile devices in classrooms this year.
"We didn't just flood every classroom in every school with iPads and mobile devices. What we want to do is make sure that the teachers are involved in being able to build their learning, their teaching techniques around these devices and introduce them as they need to," Newcombe said.
Regardless of what change the new year brings. Newcombe tells WNEM there's one goal his administration always tries to meet.
"We look at our role here as just doing everything we can to work with our parents and work with our students and maintain the communication and be able to help students in any way we can. If we can do that we're all going to have a good school year," Newcombe said.
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