Back to school

FI-EditorialDid everyone listen last week and make the most out of the last weekend of summer vacation? Hopefully so, because it’s back to work, especially for those in the Greenwich Public Schools.

Yes, with the surge of excitement that can only come with the first day, school was back in session this week with a lot of positive words from each and every principal and teacher in the district about the year to come. And why shouldn’t they feel good? There’s nothing like a fresh start to the year with everyone having a clean slate and a chance to exceed everything done the year before.

Soon enough kids will be complaining about homework and having to get up early, but for this week at least (and probably next week, too, thanks to Labor Day on Monday) there’s still that brand new school year feel about things where everything seems possible. There’s absolutely no reason to think the high standards set for the district can’t be met thanks to the hard-working teachers, staff and principals in all of Greenwich’s schools and the ability of each child to learn.

Even though it was summer, the business of education did not stop. Greenwich is no exception. School might not have been in session and the Board of Education might have taken two months off from meetings, but the work didn’t stop. There’s a big agenda to get to in the coming weeks and months by both the board and the district administration, and the first public involvement comes tonight at the first meeting of the year.

Tonight’s agenda for the meeting at Hamilton Avenue School is a relatively light one, especially when compared to some of the marathons that are no doubt coming, but there will be an important update on the digital learning program implementation. This is one of the biggest initiatives rolled out by Superintendent of Schools William McKersie, and it can pay huge dividends in the future if done right.

That’s just one of the topics the board and administration have to focus on, though. There will be a discussion next week at a work session on test scores on state standardized tests. But something else needs to not disappear off the radar. It’s appropriate that tonight’s meeting takes place at Hamilton Avenue because it’s the magnet program there that continues to need the board and administration’s attention.

This year we hope we will be free of the drama and discord that came with last year’s racial balance discussions. Fixing Hamilton Avenue’s magnet theme and making it one that not only benefits the hard working students, teachers and staff but actually draws in students must be a priority. All the talk earlier this year about what will be done to help these students achieve can’t just be lip service.

There’s going to be a lot on the Board of Education’s plate but the futures of Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon schools must be a big part of it. The district owes it to the students and school communities to do everything in its power to give them every resource and chance. That means pushing forward an expansion plan for New Lebanon and getting the right magnet program in place for Hamilton Avenue.

The immediate pressure from the state may be off but that just means now is the time for the work to happen. Let that be the district’s goal for the year. Promises were made and they have to be kept.

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