Cuyahoga Falls -- As students in the Cuyahoga Falls City School District head back to classes Aug. 17, there will be some new programs offered to them.
District Deputy Superintendent Melvin Brown said that new initiatives this year include: the addition of art as a high school credit course available at the middle school; the reintroduction of welding as a high school credit class; and a new math series for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The art class offering will help give middle schoolers with a "keen interest" in the subject to have "more flexibility" in choosing classes upon entering high school, said Brown.
Brown also noted district officials are hoping to offer the welding course to adults who want to learn the skill in the evening or on weekends. Additionally, Brown emphasized the district will be looking at ways to reach out to the community at-large and involve its members more.
"We will be making a concerted effort to connect more effectively with our community and devise ways to engage them in school activities and advocacy," said Brown. "Strong efforts are being made to improve communication."
District officials will be working on implementing a "Pathway to Success" model to "track student progress and success at eight definitive milestones across their academic careers," said Brown.
He noted there will be a lot of discussion and work examining the use of both "formative assessment" and "effective feedback" to students.
"Now that we have a strong framework for instruction, we will be taking a strong look at our instructional practices and what we need to do in order to more fully engage our students in learning," said Brown. "This will lead to additional academic success."
The district will initiate the den (academy) structure for junior year students, according to Brown. Members of the Class of 2020 will be inducted into the dens. There are four learning areas: Arts, Media and Design, Health and Wellness, Human and Public Service and Engineering and Entrepreneurship.
"Teachers in each of the dens have designed a series of team building activities that are related to each student's chosen area of interest," said Brown.
School building start and dismissal times remain the same as last year.
Falls Schools dealing with building issues
The district is grappling with some infrastructure issues, too.
There were flooding problems in some of the buildings due to heavy rainfall that occurred July 24.
District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols said the high school had flooding in the cafeteria and hallway outside the cafeteria.
"This flooding was the result of the catch basin in the parking not being able to handle the amount of rain fall," said Nichols.
He explained water came in under the doors from the parking lot and entered the library from the ceiling because of "an undersized roof drain." Nichols added water entered the career tech area under the west doors because the outside drain "was not able to handle the amount of rain fall."
At Bolich Middle School, water got into an upper classroom because trim work was not yet finished on the roof restoration project.
At DeWitt Elementary School, eight classrooms experienced flooding "as a result of overtaxed drains," said Nichols, who added the gymnasium had approximately 60 to 80 gallons of water due to a leaky roof.
A roof drain pipe that leaked dumped water into a hallway at Preston Elementary School. Water got into the main hallway through a water fountain floor drain, while a foundation leak caused water to enter a classroom at Price Elementary School.
"All issues have been or are being addressed by our custodial and maintenance staff," said Nichols. "We will bring in contractors to help with situations as needed."
On Aug. 11, Brown said that a major restoration to a portion of Bolich's roof is finished, but noted the building "has still experienced some leaks in the areas that were repaired," and added the district is working with the contractor to address the issues. He noted that Bolich is the only building that is currently experiencing water infiltration problems.