Back of school bus

The Texas DPS reminds motorists that school starts today in several districts. It is the law that motorists must stop when the school bus is discharging or loading passengers.

The buses were moving this morning and the halls are again teeming with students changing classes as Gainesville ISD is holding its first day of classes for the 2006-07 school year.

The underclassmen won’t be the only new faces students will notice this year in some schools, as a number of recent administrative changes have taken place.

Julie Altom, formerly the principal of Edison Elementary School, is now the principal of Gainesville Junior High School.

Juan Lopez, the former principal of the junior high, is now an assistant principal at Chalmers Elementary School.

Altom is replaced at Edison Elementary School by Tammy Fuhrmann, who was assistant principal at Edison for the last two years.

“I have taught junior high before,” Altom said. “I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade language arts in Oklahoma”

She said the reassignments took place after a district meeting Aug. 7, following the release of Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills scores. The changes are so recent, even a GISD holiday calendar does not have the new principals listed.

“I see it as the big next challenge in my career, and I’m looking for ward to it,” Altom said.

Kurt Kronenburger remains assistant principal of GJHS.

Lopez said he welcomes the opportunity to work with a younger set of students. He was a high school teacher for 18 years and served as assistant principal there for three years before his five years as GJHS principal.

“It’s nice to be here,” Lopez said. “This is a great school and I’m glad to work with a different level of kids,”

Lopez complimented continuing Chalmers Elementary principal Patti Mercer and said he looks forward to working with her.

Fuhrmann said she is “ready to hit the ground running” as principal of Edison and didn’t mind the relatively short notice.

“This is a great move for me, and the parents and teachers have welcomed me and have been congratulating me,” she said.

Fuhrmann said she will have “an excellent administrative team” this year, with the addition of Lori Nusbaum who joined Edison Elementary as assistant principal.

“We couldn’t do it without our staff,” Fuhrmann said.

Nusbaum was formerly with Chalmers Elementary as an assistant principal.

The deck remained unshuffled at Lee Intermediate School, with Vance Wells and Glenn Fry remaining as principal and assistant principal, respectively.

At the high school, Ben Lee Freiling joined the administrative staff earlier this summer as an assistant principal, replacing Paul Martinez. Kim Parsons remains as an assistant principal, and Bill Gravitt will stay on as principal.

Charles Luke, GISD superintendent, said the changes were made based on Texas Education Agency accountability standards ratings. Edison Elementary, Chalmers Elementary, Lee Intermediate and GJHS were all rated “academically acceptable.” Gainesville High School was rated “academically unacceptable.”

Luke said in an interview Friday afternoon no changes were made at the high school because Principal Gravitt took the job last year and fulfilled all of the first-year duties the district required of him. He noted administrative stability would be necessary as GHS attempts to raises its TAKS scores and attain a higher TEA rating.

A report on TEA ratings on area schools appeared in the Aug. 7 Register.

“In response to the results of recent accountability standards reports and a curriculum review commissioned by the GISD, some administrative changes have occurred at several GISD schools,” Luke said in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.

The recent reassignments “were implemented in an effort to best meet the instructional needs of kids across the district,” the release said. “In efforts to respond to accountability issues and our curricular and instructional needs, we sometimes have to move personnel to areas where we believe the needs of students will be better served.”

Luke said all administrators affected by the moves have been cooperative and “expressed a desire to serve to the best of their abilities in their new capacities.”

“All of the administrators have been very helpful with these changes and have all indicated that they are willing to work in their new roles to help kids,” Luke said in the release. “I am very proud of each of them.”

When interviewed, many of the reassigned principal and assistant principal declined to comment on whether they had any personal misgivings regarding the recent transfers.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

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