Welcome back is the message that hung overhead as students crossed the threshold to begin their 2017-18 school year at Virgin Valley Elementary School. Eager learners, ready to soak up knowledge like a sponge, filled the hallways and classrooms on Monday, Aug. 14; the first day of school.

The day, this year, came two weeks earlier than it has in previous years and one would think that the early start would create many challenges for the teachers. According to Virgin Valley Elementary School Principal Cathy Davis, the transition for the early start this year went smoothly.

“We knew about the early start ahead of time so the teachers were well prepared,” Davis said. “Some of the teachers were here last Wednesday, which was their official back to school date, and began setting up their classrooms, others have been coming by all summer long.”

With that challenge easily met, teachers and school administration are now focusing on a much bigger challenge for their students; school books that are not up to the current testing standards and budget cuts that don’t allow for the school to have the funds to purchase the ones that are.

Davis said gathering the materials to subsidize what the texts lack is very time consuming for the teachers. The teachers are forced to use a plethora of outside sources and piece together the information that the kids need to learn to keep up with the state’s standardized testing.

Books, enough to accommodate all the students in all grade levels, for reading alone, will cost the school around $100,000. The school books are outdated in both math and reading so the school is looking at around a quarter of a million dollars to rise to the standards the state has set for the students in those two subjects alone and there’s no telling what new standard they may come up with in the future.

For now, the teachers are prepared and the challenges of the early start have been met successfully by the staff, parents and the students at the elementary school. The early start challenge won’t come along again because the school year will finish two weeks earlier than previous years and things will flow as usual from then on.

Principal Davis says that the more important challenge is that the additional budget cuts this year will make it impossible to even try to get up to snuff with the state standards.

Money that the school had hoped would be able to cover some of the cost of new books is now being used to supplement the nutrition program funds that VVES lost this year.

Davis, the VVES staff and the students would like the community to know that any extra dollars that you might find lying around would be greatly appreciated. Anyone wishing to donate to the purchase of new texts can specify exactly what their donation will be used for. Everyone wishing to help overcome the challenges is welcome to stop by the school at 200 Woodbury Lane or call 702-346-5761 during school hours.