WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The first day of school started with a bang today in Wichita Falls with new technology, new construction and hundreds of new additions to junior high. This is the first time 6th graders, as a whole, have been in school with 7th and 8th graders at McNiel Middle School and Barwise. School officials say they have had 6th graders at Kirby and at Barwise in small programs but not the whole group. School officials say they anticipate a smooth transition is for students at both schools.
"I think the biggest change is going to be for the parents and the idea of their 6th graders coming to middle school especially if it is there oldest child. But we're used to that - it's normal for us so we are excited that we are finally doing that at WFISD."
He says 6th, 7th and 8th grades are crucial ages for students. He says they have individual, unique social and emotional needs and from an educational standpoint they start realizing their place in education.
"By having 6th grade now with the junior high school kids it gives them the opportunity to differentiate their classes and take higher level math classes if they want.
WFISD Superintendent, Michael Khurt, says the district is starting the school year with a balanced budget.
"I think our board, our finance department, and our community has done a great job of being conservative and spending our money wisely."
He says at the same time they've given teacher pay raises and invest in new wings for McNiel and Barwise.
"It's a high tech facility. All the 6th graders are going to get Chromebooks here this week. Thursday is the magic day and they'll be issued just like textbooks. Their assignments - everything will be done through Google Chrome.
As teachers develop lessons they'll put them out their on Chromebooks for students to complete. Kuhrt was visiting campuses all day. He says the school year has gotten off to a great start.
"We've had a wonderful start of school. Parents did a great job getting their kids to school on time, getting them checked in. It's always nerves on the first day but I think it was a wonderful start."
The new wing at McNiel took almost a year and a half to complete and has 19 new classrooms. There's also athletic, fine arts and cafeteria additions.