SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: Summer hardly an ‘off’ time for educators

By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

This time of year, I’m frequently asked, “Do you get the summer off?”

It’s a natural question, as one who might not be employed in a school system would expect that when your primary customer (our students) isn’t using your business (our schools), you might shut your doors during what may be perceived as an “offseason.”

Many are surprised when I answer that summer is actually one of our busiest times of the year.

As you can imagine, our custodial and maintenance teams use this period of time to dive deeply into our schools and facilities, conducting deep cleans and preventive maintenance. With more limited traffic in the halls and classrooms, our custodial teams are able to spend the significant amount of time that it takes to get the buildings and facilities ready for the next school year.

We are so grateful to our custodial and maintenance team members who work very hard during the summer to prepare facilities for our students that are genuinely world-class.

Our transportation department also navigates a very busy summer schedule, as we have school buses used throughout the summer for various camps and activities. Our director of transportation and his team work hard to conduct preventive maintenance and cleaning and are also implementing a new system for bus numbering that will help increase efficiencies in our processes. They are engaged in the development of advanced training programming for the upcoming school year and are moving to a new routing software program.

We are so grateful for the hard work of this department over the summer months to prepare us for safe and efficient transportation services for our upcoming school year.

Our food service program is in full swing over the summer months as we provide the summer feeding program from May 30 through Aug. 2. Breakfast is served daily at Brown County High School from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and lunch is served daily from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We are also serving at the Brown County YMCA from June 6 to 23 (Monday to Thursday) from 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meals are free to all students and teens ages 18 and younger. (Note: No meal service the week of July 4.)

We appreciate our director of food service and his team for the ability to provide this wonderful benefit to our boys and girls and their families.

We will be providing a comprehensive summer school program this year where around 20 students per grade level in kindergarten through Grade 8 will attend school all day for eight days (two days per week for four weeks). This program will target grade-level standards in both math and English/language arts for students to be better prepared for the upcoming school year. This program is reimbursed through Indiana Department of Education summer school resources so there is no negative impact on the general fund. We also provide summer credit recovery and other summer school coursework at Brown County High School for students in Grades 9 to 12.

We are grateful to our educators who spend extra time over the summer working with students to remediate and advance their skills.

You will notice lots of activity around Brown County High School and our athletic facilities as our coaches work to prepare our students for the fall sports season. Our athletic programs offer a variety of camps and open gyms for students so that they may continue their athletic advancement during the summer months. The BCHS marching band program is also active over the summer months as they prepare for competitions and the fall sports season. The BCHS campus is often so busy during the summer break, one would think we are in traditional session.

Our coaches and directors put in countless hours over break to prepare our students for competitions, meets and games. This is often very hot and very hard work. We appreciate their dedication to providing these opportunities for our students involved in extra-curricular activities.

The technology department is an extremely busy team during the summer months. As the amount of technology in the buildings has soared, it is amazing what this small department accomplishes over the course of the summer. From performing updates on all of our devices, to working on servers, projectors and switches, to checking phone and security systems, this department never takes a break. In addition to traditional preventive maintenance, Brown County Junior High School recently received a grant that will fund the purchase of Chromebook devices in a 1:1 capacity. These devices will be prepared over the summer for deployment at the beginning of the school year.

This summer promises to be a very busy one for the technology department. Their efforts are surely appreciated!

Meanwhile, payrolls are made, bills are paid and we work on the development of the 2018 budget at the administration office. This team advances preparations for the upcoming school year so that our teachers and staff realize seamless transition. We are in the process of implementing a new health insurance system and will also begin preparations for the teacher contract negotiations process. The summer is a very busy time for our team at the administration building.

We try to pack in a lot of “catching up” during the summer months, which can make this one of our busier times of the year. Our board of school trustees still meets throughout the summer on the first and third Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. You are always welcome to join these proceedings.

We hope that our families are able to recharge and enjoy the summer months together while our preparations are made for the upcoming school year. We have an incredible group of summer team members who are working hard to make sure that we are ready for an outstanding school year 2017-18.

Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or lhammack@browncountyschools.com.