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New school year brings changes
LCES, LCMS get all-free lunches; 8 schools have new principals
LCES back to school
Langston Chapel Elementary School third-grade teacher Amy Tapley wishes Landon Hilario, 8, a happy belated birthday as he visits his new classroom with mom Tanya and sister Ashlee, 11, as faculty and staff welcome back students and parents during open house Tuesday. (SCOTT BRYANT/staff)

Some things, and many faces, will be new as more than 10,000 students start the 2019–20 school year Thursday in the Bulloch County Schools.  Among other changes, the principals are new at eight of the 15 schools.

Meanwhile, all students at two schools — Langston Chapel Elementary School and Langston Chapel Middle School — will now receive free lunch without their families even having to apply for it. In yet another change, the schools will be using an electronic visitor check-in system called CheckMate, but parents bringing their children to school can expect leeway on ID requirements the first two weeks.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson is scheduled to spend Thursday visiting several of the schools before making his first-day "state of the system" report.

"We are continuing to build upon a foundation for a lot of great things we have going on in the district," he said Monday. "I've been able to get around to our schools over pre-planning, and I received a lot of positive feedback from our school staff, and they're excited about the upcoming year and actually support the changes that have been made."

School leadership

With a principal's retirement from Statesboro High School effective this summer and principals' departures from two other schools, Wilson took the approach of promoting or transferring from within the system. He also transferred some principals in what he described last spring as "an intentional effort to balance needs with leadership capacity," and the transfers created other openings to be filled.

As a result, the following principals are new in their current positions: Chad Prosser at Statesboro High, Brad Boykin at Southeast Bulloch Middle, Dr. Julie Blackmar at Portal Middle High, Pam Goodman at Julia P. Bryant Elementary, Dr. Laurie Mascolo at Mattie Lively Elementary, Dr. Carolyn Vasilatos at Portal Elementary,  Keith Wright as interim principal at Langston Chapel Elementary and Leigh Baker as interim principal at Stilson Elementary, although Baker actually started in that role last spring.

Several assistant principals are also new to their jobs. In a media release for the start of school, Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations specialist, noted that seven school administrators who received promotions are graduates of the district's Aspiring Leaders program: Chad Prosser, Brad Boykin, Leigh Baker, Travis Brooks, Shannon Hinson, Marianna Voiselle and Ragan Adkins.

In the area of prep sports, the district's three high school's each have new athletic directors to oversee student athlete eligibility, coaches, athletic facilities and compliance with Georgia High School Association policies, Greene noted. These new directors are Patrick Hill at Statesboro High School, Justin Chester at Portal Middle High School, and Aimee Civalier and Barrett Davis at Southeast Bulloch High School.

Langston Chapel free lunch

With the new school year, Langston Chapel Elementary School and Langston Chapel Middle School become the only schools in the Bulloch County system with free lunch for all students.

Because of their high percentage of students already eligible, due to family income, for free or reduced-price lunch, both schools qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Nutrition Program, according to Bulloch County Schools Nutrition Director Megan Blanchard.

"This provision provides free, healthy meals to all children at these two schools and eliminates the need for their parents and guardians to complete a federal Free and Reduced Meal application," Blanchard said, in a media release. "It also reduces the amount of new school year paperwork parents have to complete and the school district's administrative and printing costs."

Almost 90 percent of the Langston Chapel schools' student populations qualified for free and reduced lunch, Greene noted. The two schools have the highest percentage of families with incomes below the poverty line and the largest number of minority students in the Bulloch County system.

For all other schools in the system, parents will still need to complete an application for their children to qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. But, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bulloch County Schools already make free breakfasts available to all students on all campuses.

CheckMate system

All of the schools will be using the electronic visitor check-in system, called CheckMate. For the first two weeks of the school year, the schools will use a "supervised open-door policy" in recognition that many parents like to accompany children to their classrooms at first, Greene stated.

But beginning Aug. 19, strict adherence to the school system's visitor protocols will be enforced, she said. All visitors, including parents, will be required to present a government-issued picture identification card, such as a driver's license, to gain entry past secured areas of the schools. If a visitor does not have a government-issued ID, other forms of picture ID may be accepted at the discretion of school administrators.

"School administrators have the authority to ask any visitor to explain his or her presence in a school building," noted the release. For more information on the visitor protocols, see the Back-to-School Toolkit online at http://bulloch.k12.ga.us.

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