Murfreesboro City Schools hard at work on training, renovations for new school year

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Assistant Superintendent of Operations Gary Anderson explains the growth in students in the enrollment report as well as the school renovations. CHELSEY ZHU

As projected by school officials in January, the majority of the 12 schools that comprise MCS have experienced increased enrollment for this school year.

What wasn’t projected was the tremendous pace of the growth: eight of the 12 schools now have enrollment slightly to significantly above projected numbers, leading to a 260 student increase from May of 2017.

As reported to the MCS board at the Aug. 8 meeting, this unprecedented rise in enrollment prompted Murfreesboro City Schools to take action over the summer to properly equip its schools for the upcoming year.

More than 200 total employees, 85 teachers hired since June

Just a couple dozen teachers were originally hired by MCS at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. In the rush to accommodate hundreds of new students, school officials interviewed teachers and education assistants throughout June and July, bringing the count of new hires up to 85. Other MCS employees, such as janitors, cafeteria workers and other support staff also increased in number over the summer, resulting in a total of more than 200 hires.

The hiring process has been challenging, considering the area shortage of qualified teachers, cutting the timing close: two to three applications for educator positions were approved on Tuesday, Aug. 8, the same day that schools officially opened for the 2017-2018 academic year. However, MCS has been largely successful in filling these positions at a reasonable rate. As of the meeting, there are only two job openings in the MCS system.

MCS teachers go to summer school

Both new and experienced educators became students over the summer in teacher development programs. Many voluntarily took classes in a variety of subjects, from discussions on math instruction to training for teaching English as a second language. Programs included the Gifted Academy, new teacher orientation and Project INSPIRE, a one-week seminar at MTSU that trained a total of 87 teachers.

"Murfreesboro City School teachers are always learning," said Joe Marlin, assistant superintendent of instruction. "They know that they don’t know everything there is to know yet. They strive to be better."

In addition to providing continuing education for the faculty, teacher development programs often serve as an attraction to potential hirees interested in further improving their skills.

Kids return to school with renovated classrooms, playgrounds

Many MCS facilities were repaired, renovated or constructed over the summer. Black Fox Elementary, which will house 879 students this school year, added four new classrooms and a parking lot to the school. Due to administrative and weather delays, six additional classrooms planned to open in July are still being built. Once construction is finished, the school capacity will increase to 1,000 students, giving Black Fox the room it needs for future growth.

Every school’s playground facilities received remodeling, which included cleaning, fencing, repair and landscaping. Hobgood Elementary, Mitchell Neilson Primary, Bradley Academy and Black Fox Elementary received new playground structures in addition to remodeling. Not all of these improvements are completely finished, but most playgrounds will be fully ready for use within the first semester of school.

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