LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS: Changes await students as new year begins Monday

Aug. 24, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

For most of the public schools in Lee County, Monday is a new beginning.

It is the start of a new school year, and it will be a year of change at the high school level especially. The county's two traditional high schools will both have new principals, Lee County High School athletics will be in a new, smaller division, and Southern Lee High School's football team will be under the command of a new coach.

Furthermore, Southern Lee will be implementing a new academy-style curriculum to prepare students for careers in hospitality and tourism, the state's fastest-growing industry. And Lee County High will be starting a pilot program for an International Baccelaueate curriculum, an intensive series of college-prep courses.

But it's not just the high schools where things will be different. Superintendent Andy Bryan has been with the school system for some time, but this will be his first year as the district's top administrator. And at every level, teachers and principals will be coping with switching over to the new Common Core Standards of instruction and testing.

School goes from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for elementary schools, 7:40 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for middle schools, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for high schools.

On the policy side of things, the Lee County Board of Education has tentative plans to do more research into creating one or two magnet schools at the elementary level; those discussions could lead, once more, into the controversy of year-round schools which reared its head last winter. The board will also try to find ways to deal with overcrowding. Every elementary school is reportedly at or above capacity.

But the elementary schools will have more protection; this year is the first year that the school district will have any student resource officers — two of them as of now; maybe more in the future — dedicated wholly to looking after the elementary schools. That change is part of a system-wide retooling of campus safety, which will now be provided by Lee County Sheriff's Office deputies and not officers answering to school administrators.

In preparation for those new duties, said Sheriff Tracy Carter — a former Lee County Schools student resource officer — local law enforcement officers ran through a complex training session earlier this week at Southern Lee High School.