WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The first day of school brought a new school year with a new superintendent to the Watertown City School District.
In the Spring of 2023, Dr. Larry Schmiegel was officially named the District’s new superintendent after a long search. He began his work in May to prepare for the next school year.
Watertown welcomed back students on September 7 after a few days of district-wide training.
“Our goal, what we said at our welcoming day on Tuesday was we need to dig back into the things that make the Watertown City School District the best school district for parents to send their precious kids to, and for our staff to teach and work in,” he expressed.
Since the spring, Dr. Schmiegel has made many changes to the district. This has included staff reorganization, new student-driven initiatives and safety measures.
At Watertown High School and Case Middle School, students will now follow a strict cellphone policy and use an electronic hall pass system.
This requires hall passes to be requested on an electronic device and allows staff to keep a log of student locations.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” Dr. Schmiegel said. “There were instances where bathrooms were overcrowded, maybe students felt uncomfortable to use particular bathrooms at the secondary level. So we want to make sure that all our students feel safe using the bathrooms and moving through the halls.”
The high school and middle school also are installing vape sensors as vaping has become a concern on both campuses. Watertown CSD previously joined a class action lawsuit against the use of JUUL vape pens.
The District plans on using some of the money obtained from that lawsuit to pay for the vape sensors and E-Hall passes.
Among these safety improvements, Dr. Schmiegel said he is focused on student success throughout the entire district. Plans are in place to enhance special education resources, enrichment classes and mental health resources.
He said this is especially important as enrollment is on the rise and well over 4,300 students.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re providing a safe environment for students to learn and support them in areas that they need to grow,” Dr. Schmiegel said. “If that includes mental health, vaping, ex cetra, we’re here to do that.”
With hopes for a safe, successful and exciting school year for the Cyclones.