By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald
The start of the new school year for Effingham County students is less than two weeks away. Various departments within the school district have been busy during the summer to get the schools ready and personnel in place to serve the students and community.
The Herald asked Effingham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford about the preparations for the new school year, including bus drivers and staffing concerns, and increasing the number of foreign exchange students.
New parking lots at the high schools
“The additions at South Effingham High School, South Effingham Middle School and Effingham County High School included paving at each site. We have added additional space on the bus ramp at SEHS/SEMS as well,” Dr. Ford said. “At this time there is not an additional traffic pattern in place.”
We are excited about the additions at each site. SEHS and SEMS will have new wings that will be ready for the beginning of the school year. The addition at ECHS is in the early stages. As our student population continues to grow, the additions will be very beneficial.”
According to Dr. Ford, the district is keeping ahead of any shortages with bus drivers, adding that many employees in other roles also have CDL certification.
“Dana King, our transportation coordinator, and her staff work year round training new drivers and employing them as substitutes so that we can stay ahead of a driver shortage,” Dr. Ford said. “This continuous process has truly been beneficial to our school district. There are many bus drivers who also have a dual role in the district, serving in other areas as a paraprofessional, teacher, coach, extra-curricular advisor, custodian, school nutrition worker, and in other capacities.”
The district has received all the new buses it ordered last year.
“All of our new buses ordered in the spring will be ready to serve the students by the first week of school,” Dr. Ford added.
“The District's human resource department, principals, and supervisors have been working diligently since February to secure candidates for open positions. Although we are not fully staffed in every department, we are in good shape as we ramp up to begin school,” Dr. Ford said.
“We always encourage anyone interested in serving the students in our district to apply on our website at www.effinghamschools.com. I know our principals and supervisors work really hard to recommend great candidates to serve the boys and girls of our district.”
“On July 20, the board approved an increase in the number of foreign exchange students in the district. Each high school will be able to host three students, increasing the total to six for the district,” Dr. Ford said.
“Our principals and staff have always welcomed students through this program and as a whole the district has had a positive experience and recognizes the benefit to the district,” Dr. Ford added. “We are thankful to the families and organizations that participate in the foreign exchange student program.”
Effingham County Schools will start 2023-2024 with more than 14,000 students and nearly 2,000 employees, according to Dr. Ford.