New school year off to smooth, if sweltering, start in county

Published 7:17 pm Friday, August 6, 2010

The first day of school for the 2010-2011 school year went well, said Darren Douthitt, Butler County Schools superintendent.

“Things were smooth and uneventful, just as we expected it,” Douthitt said on Friday.

The sweltering summer heat did cause some discomfort at Greenville High School when several A/C units failed to cool properly.

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“We had some of our air conditioning units decide to conk out on us, but we’ve gotten somebody in to work on them. Otherwise, things have gone pretty well, We’ve had the normal amount of chaos you might expect with school just starting,” said Brad Cook, the new GHS principal.

“The kids and the faculty have been outstanding. We have a few scheduling issues, but that is getting worked out.”

In Georgiana, a fencing project that was scheduled to be completed prior to the opening of school was postponed in order to give some A/C issues at the school top priority.

“I appreciate Mr. Douthitt for being on top of these needs for us here in Georgiana. We’ve had a really good start to our year, too, even with the heat,” Georgiana School principal Joseph Dean said.

At McKenzie School, principal Randy Williams was happy to report temperatures were down and enrollment was up.

“Things are going great. All our air conditioners are working – knock on wood,” he laughed. “And we’ve got 20 more kids than we were anticipating, and we are tickled to death. It’s more new students than we’ve ever had at the beginning of a school year. That’s good news!”

Enrollment is also up at GHS. Cook reported the school has gone from approximately 750 students last year to more than 800 currently enrolled.

“We have a particularly large freshman class this year,” Cook said.

After eleven years of working in the Butler County School System, former Greenville Middle School Principal Jai Hill worked his first day as an elementary school principal.

Hill, who now works at Greenville Elementary, said “its going great.”

“There is a big difference between elementary and middle school,” Hill said.

Since he has been in education, Hill has steadily rose through the ranks, while moving down age groups. He got his start at Greenville High, from which he was moved to Greenville Middle, the post he held before becoming GES new principal.

Hill said the teaching staff there at GES has made his transition into the school smooth and uneventful.

“In some ways, it sort of steals my thunder,” Hill said. “I usually go into a school with ideas on what we are going to do with the children and how.”

Instead, Hill said, he walked into a school where the teachers have their kids in line-literally.

“If you look out in the hall, you will notice all the kids are walking in a single file on the yellow lines near the walls,” Hill said. “It’s wonderful.”

Hill said he has had the opportunity to meet a few parents, but is looking forward to meeting many more at the school’s open house ceremonies at 5 p.m. tonight.

In addition to noticing how well behaved the children were, Hill commented on the fact that most seemed to enjoy being back in school.

“They seem excited,” Hill said. “I have seen so many happy faces. It makes my job easier.”‘

With the summer swelter continuing and school getting underway earlier than ever, Douthitt promised to do his best to see the system’s children stay reasonably comfortable.

“Right now, our kids are not playing outside during this heat. We are also being humane and we’ll provide cold bottled water again to students on buses. With no air conditioning, it can get very, very hot on board,” Douthitt said.