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No Problems At McGee Opening Day

Principal calls the first day smooth.

McGee Principal Dr. Scott Ratchford said despite missing one day, the opening day of school was smooth.

"It was as smooth an opening day as I've ever been around," Ratchford said. "We had a full day. We were able to go through our lunch waves with no problems and the teachers were very happy with the way things went."

A transformer in the back of the school overheated and tripped a breaker during the sixth grade orientation Tuesday night. For that reason, McGee was not able to open as scheduled on Wednesday. 

"We had experts investigate it and it did what it was supposed to do when it overheats and that is trip the breaker," Ratchford said. "We were able to get a generator which is a more than powerful enough. It is a big huge thing that sits on a tractor-trailer behind the building. They told me it is used for circuses and carnivals. 

"I was assured by (Town Manager) Denise McNair and (Mayor) Adam Salina that we were capable of running the school at full power. I didn't want to have to live on the razor's edge. John Pajor brought in electricians to work on it. This clearly isn't my area of expertise but I needed to know when we could open and when we could do it safely for all of the students."

Parents have voiced complaints that this is just another setback related to the air quality control construction but Ratchford said he believes the two are unrelated.

"I have worked with this construction crew for more than a year," Ratchford said. "Everything they have told me in that year, they have delivered on. This has been a complete system overhaul. It has dealt with HVAC, electricity, plumbing, tiles, floors and excavation in the back of the school. Everything the have said they were going to do, they have done. Again, I'm no expert and we are checking to see why the transformer overheated but if it is related, and I don't think it is, I'm sure they will take all the steps to correct it."

Today, the sixth graders reported directly to the auditorium where they met all of the teachers they will have, guidance counselors and administrators. 

"We met with them and wanted them to know how the day will work and who they would be seeing on a daily basis," Ratchford said. "We then had the teachers lead them to their classrooms."

Later in the day it was time for the seventh and eighth graders to assemble.

"We talked to those students about respect and responsibility," Ratchford said. "They are the older students in the school now and we talked to them about how we want them to be the leaders and treat the younger students like they would like to be treated."

McGee also welcomes five new teachers to the school and one building substitute teacher. One of the teachers is brand new to the teaching profession.

"The district does a nice job when we have a new hire," Ratchford added. "We bring them in for a few days during the summer and they meet with a mentor and their department head. Sometimes it is the same person. We obviously check with them to make sure they are OK during the day and they have their mentor, as well, who they can talk to. One of the things I'm proud of at this school is the people are very helpful." 

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