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CCA board, administration deal with first-day jitters

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
OXFORD — The first day of a new school year tends to make a lot of people nervous: kids, parents, principals, superintendents, and even school board members.
Two years ago, the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school board of directors found themselves facing a room full of angry parents after a change in bus routes led to chaos. This time around, almost everybody was pleased.
“I would say 1,799 and one-half were absolutely ecstatic about the start (of the new school year),” Superintendent Dr. Denise Schares told the board Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the regular monthly board meeting. She did cite the case of one little girl who “…wasn’t too sure.”
“It went much better than two, three years ago,” longtime bus driver Elmer Beckler said. He noted students are typically confused the first day about which bus to be on, but “it smoothes out fast.” Beckler also thanked the administration for a much better and safer traffic pattern at the middle school in Tiffin.
“The previous traffic jam was non-existent,” Beckler said. “It went much smoother.”
“It’s nice not having a bunch of unhappy parents here,” a grinning Kevin Kinney said as his fellow board members shared smiles of relief.
Each principal gave a brief account of the first day in their respective attendance centers. At the High School, Principal Mark Moody said it was “one of the smoothest first days we’ve ever had.”
Moody showed a video asking random students about their day.
Principal Dan Dvorak at Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford reported a preliminary enrollment of 410, about 50 more than last year. His school added a third section of fifth-graders and also found an increase in kindergarten kids. “We’re really tight for space,” Dvorak said, spotlighting yet another CCA facility likely in need of expansion sooner than later as the district continues to grow in population.
At North Bend Elementary in North Liberty, Principal Brenda Parker counted 364 students, down slightly from expectations. However, she expects more students to swell the ranks in the coming days. Space is also at a premium for her building and it was noted that if a block of proposed new classrooms was added, they would already be full. “We had a really great day,” said Parker, who also showed a brief video of students and teachers sharing their joy at being back in school.
“We played the Rocky theme as the kids went out to the flag pole for the Pledge of Allegiance” said Amana Elementary principal Ben Macumber. Following the pledge, the assembly sang the CCA fight song. “It was really pretty cool,” Macumber said, noting he was initially hesitant to do so for fear of unleashing an energized student body upon his teaching staff.
“It was one of our better first days,” Principal Brad Fox said of his day at the middle school. Fox said he thought enrollment would be down 25-30 from last year, but 23 or 24 have already been added. Fox said overall, his enrollment will be up.
“We’re off to a roaring start,” declared Schares. The district has nearly 1,800 total students currently, and she feels they will top that figure, putting CCA well above the 1,750 certified enrollment from last year.