School year rings in early for Mineola

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The summer is winding down for students and school district employees, but in Mineola the first day of school starts on Thursday.

The first bell will ring at 7:50 a.m. on all four Mineola campuses.

Superintendent Kim Tunnell explained that since Mineola is a District of Innovation it has the flexibility to begin school and set a schedule based on local needs instead of the current required last Monday in August. “In talking with parents and families during Focus Group meetings last year, there was a desire to end school before June and a common thought that students and parents are ready for school to begin in August,” Tunnell said.

She said the other thought was that starting on a Monday made the first week difficult to adjust to the schedules. With this in mind, the District Advisory Council recommended the 2017-2018 calendar that addressed all three suggestions.

“We are beginning on a Thursday for everyone to learn rules and procedures and then have the weekend to rest before starting a full five-day week,” the superintendent said. “By starting on Aug. 17, the last day of school will be May 23 and graduation will be on Friday, May 25.”

As far as first-day details, the superintendent said due to the number of bus riders, a new route has been added and all 12 routes are being revised and renumbered. Information will be shared on the district’s website under Transportation Department and parents / guardians are welcome to call 903-569-3909 with any questions.

Drop off and pick up has changed for all four campuses to improve safety and supervision of students. The new procedures have been shared on social media and will be posted on the website. The key changes are that all primary students will be picked up in the front of the school and all middle school students will be picked up behind the school once buses have loaded and left.

The key change at the elementary and high school area involves creating a two-way drive in front of the high school.

The elementary traffic will still travel in the same direction, but will have a right turn only during drop off and pick up times.

The high school traffic drop off and pick up will enter on the high school (west) side and then turn in front of the school to exit out the elementary side with a right turn only as well.

The superintendent said due to safety concerns, the back parking lot will be closed during the school day to secure students as they move outside to the multiple uncontrolled access points. The back parking lot will be open for evening and after-school events however.

“We ask parents to follow the signs and directions the first few days as we work through the changes,” Tunnell said. “Mineola Police Department has also agreed to help with traffic direction.”

Otherwise, Tunnell said, “Mineola ISD is excited this year to continue to partner with our parents, guardians, and the community as we work together in educating our next generation of leaders and learners. Our theme this year is Deep DIVE (Dedicated, Innovative, Visionary Education) into Learning!

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