Posted at: 08/29/2013 11:00 PM
By: John Doetkott
As schools across the country welcome students back for the start of the new year, one local school in particular hopes this year will bring a fresh start.
Lyle Public School is no stranger to controversy, but now things are changing, and school officials say they're putting their troubled past to rest.
Along with a new principal and new administration, the school recently installed a new digital sign along Highway 280, and another sign above the front door to welcome visitors.
"We wanted to have the pride outside our school, as well as what was happening inside our classrooms, quite visible for the public,” said Melanie Jiskra, who took over as principal on July 1st.
But the improvements weren't limited to the outside of the building.
Hallways and classrooms for the younger grades were painted with cartoons and other children's figures, a makeover that came as somewhat of a surprise for many parents and students at Wednesday's open house.
“They came in, they walked down the hallways and they saw all the paintings down the hallway and they're like, 'Oh, I love that, it's so wonderful,’” said Jesse Burma, the school’s building and grounds manager. “It just gives it a more personalized, more homey feel. It gives it a little more school pride."
The changes come after years of infighting that pitted administrators against each other, and created such intense school board meetings that some left the meetings in handcuffs.
But school administrators say those days are behind them.
“There's no question there's been some trials and tribulations,” Jiskra said. “But we all have had the same commonality of what we can do to continue to have our students be successful, and it takes all of us to be a partnership in that."
“Things have been tense the last few years, without a doubt,” Burma said. “I think everybody's moved on, everything seems to be coming together really well."
And with kids returning on Tuesday, school officials say they hope to take the momentum they've built this summer and keep it going into the new year.
“I see it as a fresh start,” Jiskra said. “We're poised and ready to move forward and everybody's on board."
Along with the physical improvements, the school also reworked part of its curriculum and added a number of new tools for teachers to help students succeed.