There are a few big upgrades happening at the South Sioux City Community School District this year, like brand new playground equipment at Covington Elementary.
There is also a new ventilation system at E.N. Swett thanks to COVID ESSER funding available to the district. "Right now, we are using it to increase the actual air quality in some of our aging buildings," Superintendent Todd Strom said about the district's use of the government funding.
There is also a new athletic complex that is set to open in the fall at the high school, something the district has been planning for years.
"Now we are finally seeing some nice, rich green grass going down and it looks like a soccer and football field. It's really exciting."
READ MORE: See our exclusive look at the Cardinal Athletic Complex development
One positive item on the agenda this school year is the return of all district leadership, something not typically seen in larger districts.
"All of our administrators are back which is a very rare thing for a district our size to have all of our principals and district-level leadership returning," said Strom, adding this element adds "stability and confidence in our leadership."
Like much of the country, the South Sioux City Community School District is also feeling the strain of finding enough educators and staff to fill all open positions. But they do have roughly 30 new educators joining classrooms this year.
"We are fortunate to have a certified classroom teacher in front of each student, but some of those positions we might have a long-term sub or someone that we would continue to look for a certificated teacher to replace them next year," Strom said. "We do have teachers on staff that have come to us from other trades that are great teachers that bring with them that trade experience, that industry experience and then are able to relate to the kids and talk to them about future professions in that industry," said Strom.
Mental Health is also a top priority for the district and has been in recent years.
"We have a great community partner in Heartland Counseling. We've partnered with them to place licensed mental health therapists in our schools," Strom said. "Their caseloads are fairly substantial, close to 100 cases per therapist. They are in our schools and able to be accessed by students, faculty, and parents in a confidential setting."
The district also has a growing internship program for high school students who are placed in part-time internships while continuing to take classes.
Kindergarten through 5th grade, 6th and 9th grade all started class Thursday. All students will return for the new school year Friday.
The district still has several positions that need to be filled for this school year that are not in the classroom, you can find those open positions here.
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