Students and teachers may be out for the summer, but local school systems are still moving in high gear.
Central offices at both Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Schools are already making preparations for the next school year.
From wrapping up this past year’s finances and creating a new budget to getting the school’s facilities ready for another wave of students, year-round employees are still full force in the summer months.
“It’s putting the car together, getting it inspected, getting it ready to go and once the teachers and staff comes back, they get in it and drive it,” said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent.
From now until the start of school in August, the systems will put a great emphasis on getting finances in order, setting school schedules, submitting state and federal reports, working on updating or fixing facilities and hiring new employees, among others.
The summer work, school leaders say, it essential to make the upcoming school year run as smoothly as possible.
“I’d be very analogous to a football coach by saying there’s gameday coaching and there’s preparation coaching that goes on,” said Will Schofield, Hall superintendent. “I haven’t seen many successful sports teams that don’t do both.”
Hall County Schools has about 1,900 certified employees and only 75 people work over the summer. They work four, 10-hour days starting in June.
“On a daily basis, there’s an awful lot less horsepower than there is during the school year, but the folks who are left, they’re working,” Schofield said.
Some of the busiest of those employees are the facility maintenance crews. They are charged with more than 3 million square feet of facilities that need to be renovated, cleaned or fixed.
“Those guys are absolutely running crazy over the summer,” Schofield said. “This is the only time of the year you can replace floors, replace heating and air systems, update electrical, so there’s somewhere between $12 million and $14 million worth of stuff going on that gets coordinated through these offices in the summer.”
Dyer said her office has about 225 reports that need to be turned into the state by the end of June. If those reports, which are submitted through and electronic portal, are not complete and turned in by that deadline, they school system is left without funding for next year.
“The managing the portal is maybe the most important responsibility,” Dyer said. “If we don’t complete and submit our reports, our state funding is withheld.”
The city school system works regular hours during the summer, along with the principals of each school.
“The success of a school year depends on a continuous cycle,” she said.
Systems are also providing professional learning opportunities for their teachers, which both superintendents say is essential, especially with the upcoming changes stemming from Common Core.
“For a lot of educators, it is a nine-month proposition,” said Schofield. “Although more and more great teachers — and they may not be getting paid for it — they’re working over the summer adjusting their curriculum, gathering materials, honing their lessons, going to workshops. ... There’s so much that has to happen behind the scene.”
But the work over the summer, although vital, can sometimes seem fruitless.
“For most of us that came from this world of school, it’s an unusual feeling,” said Dyer. “The hours are long and you’re working very diligently, but you never see a teacher or a student except in summer school.”
That sense dissipates very quickly once the halls are full of students again.
“Most of us say it’s a relief when you can go out into the schools and see children again because it reminds you of why you’re doing all the work you’ve been doing,” Dyer said.