Schools start up Aug. 21 in Mon, Preston counties

MORGANTOWN — Those Bluebird buses will be back on the road in Monongalia and Preston counties Aug. 21, the first day of school for grades first through 12 in both districts.

The superintendents of both districts said Monday they were anxious for the sound of the morning bell.

“We are absolutely ready,” said Eddie Campbell Jr., Monongalia’s superintendent.

This is also Campbell’s first day here.

He most recently headed Tucker County’s school district. He was hired for the Monongalia post over the summer to replace Frank Devono, who retired.

Before that, the Wheeling native was a teacher and coach in Virginia, a high school principal in Alaska and the director of an American school in China.

No matter where he is in the world, the veteran educator said, the first day of school is universal.

He likes hearing the rustle of backpacks and the squeak of shoes on the floor of the main hallway.

Mon’s students walking down the main hallways of their schools this morning will be secure knowing that they will have classrooms to occupy, he said, staffed by teachers in front of the room.

There are no unfilled teaching vacancies in the county, he said.

And students at South Middle School and Morgantown High School won’t be displaced, even as major renovations at their schools continue, he said.

The $5.5 million project at Morgantown High includes the addition of four classrooms, new fire alarms and a new, secured front entrance.

South Middle is gaining nine classrooms as part of its $4.2 million makeover, which also includes the addition of offices, science rooms and a conference area.

“We’re in a good place,” he said.

Preston prepares

His counterpart next door, Preston County Superintendent Steve Wotring, was teaching from the same manual Monday.

“I think we’re set,” Wotring said.

To get there, the Preston Board of Education held a special meeting Monday afternoon to fill remaining positions. “I think we’re going to have everybody in place, ready to roll,” Wotring said. Teachers were in their rooms Monday, preparing for students.

Three Preston schools have new principals at the helm. At Central Preston, former dean of students Paul Martin takes the lead. At Terra Alta/East Preston, Justin Hough takes over as principal after teaching at Preston High for several years. And at West Preston, Katie McDonald comes to Preston’s second-largest campus after being principal of Brandywine Elementary in Pendleton County.

Numbers wise, staffing levels are about the same as last school year, Wotring said.

He expects about 4,500 students in the schools. “That’s where we’ve maintained the last couple years,” Wotring said, “The indications are I don’t really expect any great increase or great decrease.”

Roof work continues at Bruceton School and Kingwood Elementary. An air quality inspection was done at Kingwood because of asbestos removed from that roof. The results came back negative, Wotring said. And the roofing projects, “should not interfere in any way with school happening.” At Bruceton a road has been added completely around the school and an additional parking lot at the back. That will be the school’s new drop off point.

Wotring and other members of the central office staff will be in schools all this week, he said.

Many Preston schools are also holding open houses Aug. 21.

Kindergarten students in both districts start Thursday, and pre-kindergarten for Mon and Preston is Aug. 27.

Staying healthy

Meanwhile, with a number of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease being reported in the Morgantown area, the Monongalia County Health Department is telling people to stay home if they have it.

Info: www.monchd.org/ (then click the News tab to access the pull-down menu for press releases).

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