School chief aids opening day navigation
CENTRAL — Nearly 1,900 students walked through the doors of the newly constructed Central Intermediate and Central Middle schools for the first day of classes Monday.
The $46 million campus that spreads over 88 acres was largely completed before the first bus arrived Monday morning. The courtyard clock tower, sundial and gazebos, and sod for the grounds were still in the finishing phases.
The contractor is working on a punch list, and remaining work is scheduled for completion by Sept. 10, said Ross Bogan, Central’s construction coordinator.
Construction on Sullivan Road should be finished around the same time, Bogan said. Parent drop-off entrances to the north and west of the campus are open, but the roundabout at Sullivan and Gurney roads will take about a month to complete, he said.
Now that school is back in session, construction crews will limit their on-campus activity to after-school hours, starting around 4 p.m. each day, Bogan said.
Parents and school staff were pleased with the results of the 2009 bond initiative thus far.
“Even though we were involved in the design process, it’s more than I could have ever imagined,” Central Intermediate Principal Rhonda Taylor said. “And now, to see it filled with students — I cry just about every time I drive onto campus.”
“It makes you proud to live in Central,” parent Dana Adams said.
Many parents said the orientation sessions held last week were particularly helpful, for the students as well as their parents.
“Even I got a little lost at first,” parent Nory Cain said. “But they gave us tours and sent us home with a map.”
Cain’s daughter, fourth-grader Tristen, has adjusted well, she said.
“She got to meet her teacher and really liked her, so I think she’s going to have a good year,” Cain said.
Steven LeBlanc said he recently brought his daughter, fourth-grader Emily, to the campus for orientation of another sort.
“We rode our bikes over here, just like she would be doing for school every day, and we found a rack where she could park her bike,” he said.
The father-daughter pair rode their bicycles together Monday morning.
“The crossing guards were very helpful,” he said.
One crossing guard received special recognition at the Central Community School Board meeting Monday night — Superintendent Michael Faulk.
Faulk directed traffic during drop-off times at both the middle and intermediate schools Monday morning and participated in the Sunday volunteer grass-cutting crew that helped prepare the campus for the arrival of students.
“Our superintendent is probably the highest-paid traffic director in the world,” School Board President James Gardner joked Monday night.
“It was a great opening day, as good as it’s ever been,” Gardner said. “We want to recognize the superintendent for all he has done.”
Faulk said the opening day for Central schools went smoothly, despite the monumental task of moving more than 2,800 students into new schools across the growing district.
As of Monday afternoon, Central Community Schools enrolled a total of 4,381 students this year, an increase of 341 over last year’s final tally of 4,040, Faulk said.
Of that total, 1,315 are enrolled at Central High School, 958 at Central Middle, 966 at Central Intermediate, 681 at Tanglewood Elementary and 323 at Bellingrath Hills Elementary with six 3-year-olds, Faulk said. He said 3,993 students were present for the first day of classes,