SP focused on academics, new buildings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SOUTH POINT — A massive overhaul of the South Point School District is on the horizon, but this year, the staff says it is still staying focused on the day-to-day education of their students, while anticipating the opening of the new schools next fall.

Each of the four schools in the district will be torn down and replaced. The high school and middle schools — which will take up about 30 acres of the 84 acres owned by the district at the site — are currently being constructed, but plans are to replace all four schools in the district, with a total price tag of $42 million.

South Point Elementary will be built on the grounds of the current high school and middle school buildings, which will be torn down once the new ones are built. The new Burlington Elementary will be built at its current site.

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A new athletic complex — which will cost about $2.5 million — is also in the works at the site, as most of the bids for that project have been awarded. The complex will include a new turf football field, bleachers, an eight-lane running track and locker rooms, among other amenities.

So far, construction is going as planned, according to South Point Superintendent Ken Cook, who has been at the helm for five years. The schools are supposed to be open this time next year, Cook said.

Although he is excited about the new schools, he said academics remain the top priority.

“We want to improve academics and we want to challenge our students a little bit more,” the superintendent said.

He said bringing test scores up is one of the district’s goals. A report from the Ohio Department of Education released Tuesday showed the district was ranked overall as “effective.” Burlington Elementary was ranked the highest of the schools with an “excellent” ranking, while South Point Elementary and the high school were rated “effective” and the middle school was listed as “continuous improvement.”

Although the schools performed relatively well, Cook said he is not satisfied and strives to “provide the best educational system” in the area.

There will be some new faces and old faces sprinkled throughout the district as numerous staff changes have been made.

At the middle school, Principal Les York will be retiring and his brother, George York, the current high school principal, will take over his post. T.J. Howard has been hired as assistant principal at the middle school.

“I’m very excited about the school year,” said York, who has been with the district for 33 years. “There are a lot of challenges, but we are focused on working to improve the school.”

He said the staff is excited about the construction of the new schools, but the day-to-day schoolwork still takes precedence.

Other staff changes have been made at the other schools in the district.

Eddie Scott, assistant principal of the high school, has been promoted to principal of the high school. J.D. Emnett will serve as assistant principal.

Former Burlington Elementary Principal Mark Christian has taken the position of assistant superintendent of special education. He will also oversee elementary school operations. Christian is being replaced by Henrietta Kitchen, assistant principal at South Point Elementary.

Linda Shaw has been named as Kitchen’s replacement at South Point Elementary, while Chris Mathes remains principal.

The district’s curriculum coordinator Sandy Mers, who formerly worked at the middle school, will be taking the position of assistant superintendent over curriculum. She will also oversee the high school and middle schools.