Back to school brings changes for local districts

Elkhart Truth file photoKindergartners at Mary Daly Elementary watch the Minions give library rules during their first day back to school. Elkhart schools open to students this year on Aug. 15.

It’s August which means it’s almost time for local students to wave goodbye to summer break as the new school year approaches.

All seven public school corporations in Elkhart County will be back in session this month and students and parents alike can expect some changes for the upcoming year.


Many construction projects are under way at Elkhart Community Schools.

At Elkhart Memorial, the first phase of construction will be complete, said Tony Gianesi, the corporation’s chief operating officer.

The new office and student center will be the most noticeable changes, he said. The office is reconfigured to include a new nurse’s office, a new security desk and new office layout.

The student center has new finishes and therefore a new look, Gianesi said. Seven classrooms along the main drive on the south side have received new carpet and paint to match the classrooms completed last year.

These updates are all in gear for the district’s new unified Elkhart High School. The Elkhart High school will operate as one in the fall of 2020, but will still operate as four-year high schools at Central and Memorial campuses. The fall of 2021 will serve as the transitional year where students in Grades 10-12 will head to the high school, at Memorial’s campus, and students in grade nine will attend the freshman division at Central’s current campus.

Shortly after the start of school, the new building on County Road 10 Elkhart Area Career Center property will open with a new home for the Diesel Tech program, Gianesi said. The site will include a commercial driver’s license training.

Meal prices

Full-pay school breakfast and lunch prices will increase by 10 cents for the 2019-20 school year.

That will bring the price of breakfast at the elementary schools to $1.85, breakfast at the middle schools to $2.05, and $2.10 at the high schools.

For lunches, the prices at the elementary schools will jump to $2.75, at the middle schools $3 and at the high schools $3.10

Lunch and breakfast prices will remain at 30 cents and 40 cents, respectively, for those who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Fully digital

For the 2019-20 school year, Elkhart schools have gone fully digital/online with registrations and annual contact information updates, said Tony England, assistant superintendent of student services.

“We’re asking parents of returning students to complete the quick online process of verifying and updating information to ensure our schools and administration have the most up to date contact information.”

For returning students, this can be done by logging into PowerSchool and selecting “19-20 Returning Students” from the menu.

Staff training

Superintendent Steve Thalheimer said school staff will be training in trauma-informed and restorative practices in an effort to meet the social and emotional needs of all students more effectively.

“Many students experience issues at home, mental health diagnoses, or challenges in their personal lives that we as educators need to better understand,” Thalheimer said.

Thalheimer said staff will gain an awareness of these events, understand the impact they have on developing brains of children and learn strategies to help them work with the stressors students experience.

“Building stronger relationships with students and knowing how to better meet their needs are critical for us to live up to the Elkhart Promise of knowing every student,” he said.

Leadership changes

Kris Weimer will be the new principal at Osolo Elementary, Brandon Eakins will be the new director of the Elkhart Area Career Center and Scott Sassaman will be the new principal at the Elkhart Area Career Center.


At Goshen Community Schools, construction has started on the Goshen Intermediate School for Grades 5 and 6 and renovations to the existing high school.

The projects are part of a $65 million referendum approved during the 2018 primary.

“These two projects will greatly reduce the overcrowding at all of our schools,” said Steve Hope, deputy superintendent in charge of secondary education at GCS.  

Goshen High School is experiencing some changes during the renovation, Hope said. 

The front drive is closed and a new school bus ingress/egress with student pick up and drop off is now located along 10th Street. A new traffic pattern has also been created at the high school with a north loop off of Madison Street and a south loop off of Purl Street.

Inside the high school, a few classrooms have been installed inside Whiteman Gym and a temporary library has been created until renovations and new classrooms are completed, Hope said.

Since the intermediate school is a new building, Hope said it’s not causing any changes. Progress can be viewed from the corner of Greene Road and S.R. 119.

The high school renovations are slated to be completed by July 2020 and the new intermediate school is scheduled for July 2020.

Meal prices

Lunch prices have gone up by 10 cents at Goshen schools.

That brings the price to $2.20 at the elementary schools and $2.40 at the middle school and high school.

Leadership changes

GCS has two new elementary principals.

Todd Williams is the new principal at Chamberlain Elementary and Aimee Schade is the new principal at West Goshen. Both previously served as master teachers at their respective buildings.


As for transportation, the corporation is still short bus drivers, said Alan Metcalfe, assistant superintendent in charge of primary education. Letters were mailed to parents informing them of their child’s bus number, bus stop and approximate pick-up time, he said.

“We also want to remind parents that GCS uses SafeStop App, which allows users to track their bus as it proceeds along its’ route,” he said. “This app is also used to communicate with users through a messaging system that will allow us to send texts of any changes that might happen because of weather, bus breakdown, or substitute driver.”

Those interested in signing up for the app can visit


At Concord Community Schools, there are multiple ongoing building projects happening this year, which include the renovation of the Beickman Performing Arts Center, a fitness and performance center and a college and career readiness section to the high school.

The district’s new virtual academy will also open this school year.

The school is called MOVE UP Academy — an acronym for Minutemen Optimizing Virtual Education to Unleash Possibility. It will serve students primarily in Grades 11 and 12 at its inception with the opportunity later to expand to lower grades, school officials said.

The academy is housed in the basement of Concord Intermediate School.


Start times and end times at all the school buildings will change this school year.

The elementary routes (Concord Ox Bow, Concord East Side, Concord South Side and Concord West Side) will begin first with a school start time at 7:25 a.m. and dismissal time at 2:15 p.m. – an hour and 20 minutes earlier than the previous schedule.

Concord Junior High School routes will begin next with a start time of 7:50 a.m. and dismissal at 2:50 p.m. – 10 minutes later than usual.

Concord High School routes will follow with a start time at 8:20 and dismissal at 3:20 p.m. – 30 minutes later than previously scheduled.

Concord Intermediate School routes will conclude with start times at 8:50 a.m. and dismissal time at 3:50 p.m.–15 minutes later than the previous schedule.

As for other changes, the high school will switch from trimesters to semesters.

Meal prices

The school board in June approved a 10-cent increase to student breakfast and lunch prices.

At the K-4 buildings, for students, the cost of breakfast will be $1.30 and lunch $2.10. For the 5-12 buildings, breakfast will cost $1.50 and lunch will cost $2.40.

Leadership changes

Mandy Davis is the new principal at Concord Junior High School, Scott Kovatch is the district’s new assistant superintendent and Matthew Murphy is the new director of the fitness and performance center.


Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen said the family and consumer science rooms and Project Lead the Way area at Northridge Middle School has been remodeled.

“Because the middle school used to be the high school, we tacked the old ‘shop’ class area – made part of it a lab area and the other part is the hands-on manufacturing, welding area,” she said.

Currently, no curriculum changes are being made.

The price for breakfast and lunch have been raised at all levels, Allen said.

The new prices are: K-5 breakfast will cost $1.60 and lunch $1.65; Grades 6-12 will breakfast cost will be $1.65 and lunch will cost $2.65; K-12 reduced meals will cost 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.


Construction at Wa-Nee Community Schools includes repaved parking lots at Woodview Elementary and NorthWood High School, said Superintendent Scot Croner.

In addition, the high school upgraded its air conditioning unit which Croner said will allow the school to cool its main gymnasium.

Woodview will also be receiving playground equipment in late August.

Curriculum changes

Croner said the high school is partnering with the Horizon Education Alliance to allow students an opportunity to participate in an apprenticeship. The school has one student scheduled this year.

Leadership changes

Carrie McGuire will be the new principal at Woodview Elementary School, replacing Alan Thompson, who retired.

Other changes

Because of the school safety referendum approved at the November 2018 election, Croner said the district was able to partner with the Nappanee Police Department and employ a second school resource officer – Skylar Garner.

In addition, the district had a team of four mental health counselors that are available to provide support to students if requested and approved by parents, Croner said.

The referendum funding also made it possible for the district to hire three staff members to support a full-day alternative education program which is under the direction of Brenda Beehler.

Lastly, the district was able to use the remaining funding from this year’s referendum to purchase 50 additional security cameras and perimeter fencing to improve the safety of its school buildings, Croner said.


Baugo Community Schools has renovated Jimtown High School and Jimtown Junior High School.

At the schools, carpet, floor tile, paint, doors and several restrooms and other items were addressed, Superintendent Byron Sanders said.

On Knepp Field, turf replaces natural grass.

Meal prices

New lunch prices are $2.55 at the high school, $2.50 at the junior high school, $2.40 at the intermediate school and $2.30 at the elementary school. Breakfast pricing will remain the same at each building. The cost is $1.60.


Jimtown High School is expanding career pathway programs in Health Sciences and Engineering. AP programming is expanding and is supported through a partnership with APTip-IN  

Leadership Changes

Sanders, former principal at Jimtown High School, began serving as superintendent July 1.

Amy Bertram succeeds Sanders as the new principal of Jimtown High School. She previously served as principal of Fairfield Junior/Senior High School.


Leadership changes for Fairfield include Robert Evans as the new superintendent. He replaces Bruce Stahly, who served as the interim superintendent after Steve Thalheimer became the superintendent at Elkhart Community Schools in January.

School start times

Goshen Community Schools – Aug. 7

Wa-Nee Community Schools – Aug. 13

Concord Community Schools – Aug. 14

Fairfield Community Schools – Aug. 14

Middlebury Community Schools – Aug. 14

Baugo Community Schools – Aug. 15

Elkhart Community Schools – Aug. 15

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