Returning Bartow County School System students will spend a few minutes less in school and no longer have free breakfasts in the upcoming school year.
New school start and end times, and the end of free breakfasts for all, are among the changes that will greet an estimated 13,400 students on the first day of classes Wednesday, Aug. 7, school system officials said.
NEW TIMES: School days will begin later and end earlier for all Bartow County district students this year to give teachers more time to prepare for the day’s lessons and their students’ individual needs.
Start and end times this year include:
♦ Elementary schools will start at 8:05 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.
♦ Middle and high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m.
The change has elementary students starting five minutes later and ending five minutes earlier than last year.
It also has middle school students starting 15 minutes later and ending 15 minutes earlier; and high schoolers starting 10 minutes later and ending 15 minutes earlier, compared to the 2018-2019 school year.
Student supervision will be provided at the school about 30 to 45 minutes prior to the school start time, a news release said.
School system-provided transportation is anticipated to begin 10 minutes later. Afternoon dismissal will result in students returning home five to 15 minutes earlier than the last school year, the release stated.
Superintendent Phillip Page said the school district’s three-year plan to establish “professional learning communities” before the school day begins will “provide an environment for learning that will maximize our impact on student achievement.”
In order to support professional learning communities and give teachers ample time to collaborate in the morning, the Bartow County School System had to adjust the 2019-2020 schedule, officials said.
This year, elementary teachers will start their contractual day at 7:15 a.m. Middle and high school teachers will start at 7:30 a.m., a news release stated.
NEW, UPGRADED EQUIPMENTThe county school system will welcome back high school students with millions of dollars’ worth of new and upgraded athletic facilities.
Other students are seeing the results of millions of dollars worth of work to upgrade major interior building systems at three elementary schools.
The school system replaced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and lighting at Allatoona, Kingston and Taylorsville elementary schools.
The work totaled almost $3.5 million from local SPLOST and state capital outlay reimbursement funds, according to county school board documents.
New artificial turf is covering the football fields at all three high schools, and new running track surfaces were installed at Adairsville and Cass, with $3.1 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
The new turf allows multiple sports to be played on the fields or during extended periods of rainy weather when maintenance of grass fields can prove difficult, district officials said.
New scoreboards with video screens also are set to be installed at the three high schools’ athletic stadiums by the start of the football season.
Board members approved use of $762,000 in SPLOST revenues for the new scoreboards’ purchase and installation, according to board records.
Officials said earlier this year they believed the scoreboard parts of the signs will be installed and operating by each high school’s first 2019 home football game.
However, the digital or “video” portion of the scoreboard likely will not begin operating until sometime in September, Evans said.
First home game dates range from Aug. 23 at Woodland to Sept. 6 at Cass, according to information from MaxPreps.
And the school system used more than $560,000 in SPLOST funds to renovate its Central Registration building on Cassville Road.
READING PROGRAM EXPANDS: The school system’s Read to Grow program is expanding to every first-grade classroom in the school system and students will see more volunteers this year, Page said.
“They’ll work individually or with a small group of students to improve literacy skills,” he said. “The goal is for all students to be reading on grade level by third grade, and we are on track to do just that.”
FREE BREAKFAST ENDSFor the first time in four years the school system will charge most Bartow County students for breakfast in 2019-2020.
The county school board voted in May to discontinue the Provision 2 Breakfast Program that provided free breakfast to all students after officials said it would cost the school system almost $300,000 annually to continue it.
As a result, the system is setting the breakfast meal price at $1.50 for full pay students in all schools beginning in August.
Students classified for reduced-price meals would receive breakfast for 30 cents, while students classified for free meals would receive breakfast at no cost.
School Nutrition Services Department director Oreal Oladele said the anticipated deficit in the school nutrition budget came after the county school system saw the number of students in the free and reduced meal program decrease in the past four years.
Bartow County schools provided the breakfast program since 2016 as part of its participation in the federal National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, Oladele said.
The Provision 2 program allowed students to eat breakfast at no cost, regardless of payment eligibility status.
The system participated due to a “large number of students qualifying for assistance throughout the county,” a news release stated.
Oladele said reimbursement to her department was determined based on the first-year claims percentage in 2016 — which was 58 percent — and used for the remaining three years.
However, free and reduced meal percentages decreased to 55 percent systemwide this year. Because of the decrease, a formula used to determine the system’s cost would leave the school system with an almost $300,000 loss, Oladele said.
Lunch prices will remain the same, officials said.
Families must reapply for the free and reduced meal status each year.
Applications will be sent home with students the first day of school, though parents and guardians can go to www.bartowcountyschoolnutrition.com to apply for faster processing, Oladele said.