Slow down in those school zones. Look out for those school buses and walking schoolchildren. Students in the Queen Creek Unified School District are going back to school Monday.
Classes start at Queen Creek High at 7:40 a.m. Elementary school students start at
8:15 a.m., and middle-schoolers will start at 8:40 a.m.
The times are different from last year. The biggest change is the middle school starting almost an hour later. The changes were made in March to stagger pickup times for school buses, prompted by growth and the opening of Newell Barney Middle School.
Denise Johnson, principal of Newell Barney, was busy Friday getting the school ready with her 20 teachers. The school will open with about 400 sixth- and seventh-graders. All eighth-graders are going to Queen Creek Middle School.
“We are excited to open,” said Johnson, who was principal of Queen Creek Middle School last year. “We are the Newell Barney Buccaneers. Our colors are maroon, navy and gold. Our motto is, ‘Believe. Achieve. Succeed.’ That’s what we will emphasize this year. Students will believe what they can achieve so that they are successful.”
New this year is a backpack-free rule at Newell Barney. After research, parent concern and brainstorming, the staff decided to ask students not to bring backpacks to school. Textbooks will stay in the classroom and can be checked out in the library or accessed online if students need to look at textbooks from home, Johnson said.
Students will carry three-ring notebooks to keep their homework and class notes in. Lunches will be dropped off in the cafeteria at the beginning of the day, Johnson said.
“Everything they need will be in the classroom, except for their notebook,” Johnson said. “Backpack-free will teach better organizational skills.”
Also new this year is SnapGrades, a program where students and parents can go online using a special password to look at grades. SnapGrades will be available starting this year for the high school and two middle schools.
The district is expecting about 5,425 students this school year, a growth of about 13 percent.
Newell Barney will offer seventh-grade athletics. However, games and practices will be at Queen Creek Middle School’s fields at least until December or until the new middle school fields are ready. The recent rain storm flooded Newell Barney’s fields and washed away the seeds for the grass, Johnson said.
Also new this year is athletic fees for middle school athletes. The district decided in May to start charging the fees to help offset the $70,650 a year the district pays to participate in the East Valley Conference.
Middle school athletes will now pay a $30 fee per athlete, per season, not to exceed $90 per family, per year. Scholarships will be available for families who need help paying the new fees.
The district will also no longer provide bus transportation for after-school activities.
Queen Creek Elementary Principal Sheri Horton, who is in her second year as principal at the school, said the school will have a new portable building this year for extra classrooms. About 520 students have enrolled, Horton said.
The student council has put together school supply bags for sale for each grade level so parents don’t have to do the shopping, Horton said.
The district is building its first pool just west of Queen Creek Elementary at about 202nd Street and Chandler Heights Road. The pool will be for student use only, and should open in August for the beginning of the competitive swim season.
For information on the Queen Creek Unified School District, call (480) 987-5935 or visit www.qcusd.org.