Back To School Preview: Cass/Scott County

By Ryne Turke on August 19, 2016 at 7:20am

Our back to school series continues this morning with a focus on schools in Cass and Scott Counties.

We start in Winchester School District, where classes began on Wednesday. Superintendent David Roberts says more than ten percent of the staff is new to the school. Among the 12 new teachers is Principal Andy Stumpf, who will lead the Winchester grade school.

“I would say everyone is very positive and excited. We work in an occupation where we have a beginning, middle and end every year. With the school year starting, it is always a rebirth. With that brings a lot of enthusiasm,” says Roberts.

Enrollment is right around 650 students, which Roberts estimates is up by almost 20 from last year.

Roberts says the school plans to construct a greenhouse project later this fall.

Virginia Superintendent Brent O’Daniell says there is a “vibe of excitement and positivity” around the school district this year.

“We have five new certified staff members out of a staff of 28. We’ve got some young, talented and exciting youth coming in. We are looking forward to seeing what they can do with these kiddos,” says O’Daniell.

On a negative note, O’Daniell says the school’s suffering budget continues to limit the opportunities provided for the 269 K-12 students in the district.

“We’re anticipating a $120-thousand deficit budget this year. We are going to do everything we can do reduce that number as much as possible. We can’t add any new programs, because that just adds to the deficit. We are at such a bare-bones level that if we start making cuts to balance that out, then we will have to start cutting programs. Luckily we haven’t done that yet, but our reserves are dwindling. That is definitely a possibly in the near future,” says O’Daniell.

Work on the all-weather track should be starting over the next few weeks and continue through mid-November. O’Daniell says the track will be shared by Virginia and the school’s affiliated with the Triopia-cooperative.

Speaking of Triopia, Superintendent Steve Eisenhower says the school district is undergoing a major turnaround this year.

“I’ve been here for 26 years and this is the first time we have brought seven new staff members in. The majority of the people we are bringing in have been teachers in other districts. It will change the culture a little bit,” says Eisenhower.

Construction was limited over the summer at Triopia, due in part to the $4-million geothermal unit installed last year. Eisenhower says the students and staff have enjoyed the improved air conditioning and heat in the school.

Eisenhower estimates around 350 K-12 students for the upcoming school year, which begins on Monday.

A call to Bluffs School District was not returned.

Our back to school series will wrap up this afternoon with a preview of Greene County school districts.

Click here for the Morgan County recap.