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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Summer is over for thousands of students in the Shawnee Mission School District. Schools across the district welcomed students to their first day of the new school year Friday morning.

Many students were greeted by more than new teachers. A $264 million bond issue passed earlier this year is paying for a lot of new projects across the district.

At Shawnee Mission Northwest, crews are renovating some of the learning spaces, restrooms and classrooms. They also installed new playground equipment at every elementary school in the district over the summer.

The bond issue will also pay to build two new schools. John Deimer Elementary and Westwood View Elementary are two of five schools being replaced because of the age of the buildings. Other schools will get new roofs and heating and cooling systems.

While there’s a lot happening in the district, teachers are focused on making up for lost time. The district said more students than ever attended summer school classes, but educators are still concerned that students may struggle because of last year’s distance learning.

“We absolutely lost some ground last year,” Dr. Joe Gilhaus, Shawnee Mission Deputy Superintendent, said. “We certainly created some bigger gaps. We have our work cut out for us this year, but I feel real confident about being in school for the full year. We’re going to catch back up. We’re going to get our kids to grade level, and they’re going to be ready to go by the end of the year.”

While educators work to get students up to speed, the district is working to make sure they don’t have to worry about other issues.

Shawnee Mission School District works to help families that are struggling financially. The district says families just need to ask if they need help covering the costs of school supplies, clothes, food, and even rent and utility bills.