Today is the first day of school in St. Joseph County and public school districts across the state.
Locally, students in Colon Community Schools will see fully refurbished elementary and jr./sr. high buildings after a $15 million, district-wide building and technology upgrade was completed over the summer.
In Three Rivers, new principals at Park and Norton elementary schools are in place. Also, the district this year is introducing a 71-minute early dismissal every Monday so teachers may focus on Professional Learning Communities.
Sturgis Public Schools, the largest district in the county, will delay its start by an hour every Thursday for the same purpose. The district this year also has issued iPads to every high school student to help transform their academics, Superintendent Tom Langdon said.
Meanwhile, teacher contracts are settled in only four districts in the county: Sturgis, Three Rivers, Constantine and White Pigeon.
Burr Oak’s Terry Conklin returns as the dean of St. Joseph County’s superintendents, as he is starting his 20th year in that position in Burr Oak.
In addition, Rob Kuhlman is beginning his third year as the only two-district superintendent in Southwest Michigan. He was hired in May 2010 to oversee Mendon and Centreville school districts.
Constantine Middle School was the recipient of a $4,500 grant from the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company.
During a presentation Saturday, Josh Onken, site operations manager for the Constantine plant, made the donation. District officials said the grant will be used to purchase new library books and create a program to encourage reading.
Onken said the Monsanto Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work.
St. Joseph County Clerk Pattie Bender is advising the public that petitions for candidates to area school boards of education, Glen Oaks Community College Board of Trustees and village councils are due by 4 p.m. Aug. 14.
All positions will be elected in the Nov. 6 general election.
Bender said candidates wishing to run for school board in Burr Oak, Centreville, Colon, Constantine, Mendon, Nottawa and White Pigeon and all village council candidates need to file a minimum of six signatures and a maximum of 20.
Board candidates for Sturgis, Three Rivers and Glen Oaks need a minimum of 40 signatures and a maximum of 100 signatures.
All petitions are to be filed in the county clerk’s office.
The Abiel Fellows Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution of Three Rivers has announced recipients for the DAR Good Citizens for 2012.
Honored for their dependability, service, leadership and patriotism, each senior is recognized on the basis of merit.
This year’s Good Citizens are: Lauren Kirby, Centreville High School; Adam West,
Constantine High School; Leslie Bennett, Factoryville Christian School; Lindsey Kuster,
Howardsville Christian Academy; Taylor Batten, Mendon High School; and Laurin Masnari, of Three Rivers High School.
The first St. Joseph County school district to begin its summer break is in Colon, where its students have a noon dismissal today, wrapping up their 2011-12 academic year.
Other last days of school in St. Joseph County are June 1 for Constantine; June 6 for Burr Oak; June 7 for Three Rivers and White Pigeon; June 8 for Centreville and Mendon; and June 14 for Sturgis.
Meanwhile, graduation takes place this evening for students at Centreville High School.
The Constantine Public Schools Board of Education has taken on changes at the state level that allow school districts to extend the terms of board of education members from four to six years.
The matter was approved earlier this week by board members. Those in favor of the revised term length said the option provides more stability than what is afforded by a four-year term.
District officials in Sturgis are reviewing the proposal while the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education weighed the option but decided to stay with four-year terms for its members.