East Grand goes back to school
Students in the East Grand School District return to class on Monday and the schools are gearing up for the year.
“I think people are really excited,” Superintendent Frank Reeves said. “Going to staff meetings throughout this week and seeing people this week, I think people are genuinely really excited to get back into school.”
Numbers are still fluctuating for student enrollment, as they do every year, but more students have enrolled so far than withdrawn from the schools. Reeves anticipates that the district — which lost 25 students last year — will go back up to pre-pandemic numbers this school year, if not grow even bigger.
Staffing has been a challenge for the school year, and East Grand Middle School is still short a sixth-grade special education teacher. Reeves said using some “creative solutions” and the help of other teachers, the school should be able to fill that gap.
Middle Park High School, which needed a counselor, will also be filling the gap creatively. A staff member will be able to fulfill most of the counselor responsibilities like scheduling and career guidance without the counseling aspect.
Every building needs more paraprofessionals and custodians, but Reeves said the district has been lucky with filling bus driver positions, where other school districts have been seeing a shortage.
“We’ve been really, really fortunate,” he said. “We could use one more bus driver, but we have all of our routes covered.”
While schools will begin the year with a mask requirement, COVID rules will be less strict compared to 2020. The biggest change is that parents will be able to get back into schools.
“We get to have them in our buildings again,” Reeves said. “I’m excited for that for our community. I’m also excited because I get to get back in buildings.”
The superintendent said he is eager to see an expansion of restorative practices at the schools, which provides an additional tool to teachers when dealing with behavioral issues.
What Reeves might be most enthusiastic about is the Homegrown Talent Initiative. The program aligns learning for students with local, career-connected experiences and saw great success last year despite the pandemic.
“I just think that that’s set to kind of explode,” Reeves said. “Working with our businesses and our community, getting our kids out in the community doing internships and job shadows and just learning about careers.”
Seeing the district continue to grow is wonderful, but it comes with a bit of melancholy for Reeves. This is the last time he gets to start a school year with Reeves set to retire in June.
“I’m a pretty emotional guy and I’m pretty sentimental,” he said. “Today, with our whole staff meeting that we had this morning, everything’s a little bit bittersweet. It’s exciting and I look forward to it, but this is the last time I’ll do this.”
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