New Chromebooks and new buses add to excitement of new school year in county

Augusta County technology staff prepare to distribute nearly 2,000 new Chromebooks to students.

VERONA — A new school year, new Chromebooks and new school buses were the focus of Thursday night’s meeting of the Augusta County School Board.

“I’m pleased to report that we had a wonderful opening of school,” said Augusta Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric W. Bond. He visited each school the first week of August.

As mentioned in last month’s school board meeting, Bond said this academic year is special, “a lot of positive energy in the air and a lot of good things that are going on with our students and our teachers.”

As of Thursday, enrollment came in at 10,360 students. Bond said this total is 35 students more than when the 2018-2019 academic year ended.

“A big thank you, as I said, goes out to our staff, our principals and our teachers, and especially, our students,” Bond said. “I appreciate all the hard work that everyone has done for the opening of school.”

In an update about the school system’s digital transformation, Augusta Schools Superintendent of Instruction/Technology Tina Kiracofe said nearly 2,000 student devices have been distributed this academic year to students as part of a 1:1 initiative. Seventh graders received their first Chromebook, and 10th graders received new devices to replace old devices.

“Initially, when we started the digital transformation, we said that we would expect these devices to last about three years, and our first group of 7th graders are now 10th graders,” said Kiracofe. “So they have received a new Chromebook that will see them through the last three years of high school.”

The old Chromebooks 10th graders had, if still in working condition, Kiracofe said have been returned to use elsewhere in Augusta Schools.

Kiracofe thanked the school board for its support in the transformation. Augusta School’s students in grades 2 to 5 each have a Chromebook.

Augusta Schools Executive Director of Transportation Terry Lafon said that three of the school system’s 12 new buses have been received by bus drivers.

“It has been so uplifting to be able to give our bus drivers new buses,” said Lafon.

Bus drivers receiving one of the new buses, which three more will come soon, followed by the other six new buses, met certain criteria, according to Lafon.

Lafon said consideration was given to bus drivers driving the oldest buses, who have the most years driving for Augusta Schools, who keep their buses clean, and drivers who are respectful and professional.

The first of the three buses went to a driver whose bus was 15 years old and who has been with the school system for 32 years driving in Craigsville.

The second bus went to a driver in Fort Defiance who has been with Augusta Schools for 25 years.

And the third bus to Riverheads, to be driven by a driver who has served Augusta School for 26 years.

“That part has been unbelievable,” Lafon said.

He thanked the board for allocating the funds from their 2019-2020 budget for 12 new buses.

“I think we had an excellent opening,” said school board member David Shiflett in closing comments. He said everyone appeared glad in the Middle River District to have children back in school.

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