Columbia County parents and pupils can expect changes

Shayle Farmer shows her son Kameron how to open his locker during open house at Evans Middle School.



When school resumes Tuesday in Columbia County, parents and pupils can expect to see a few changes from last year.

New principals are at Brookwood Elementary and North Columbia Elementary schools.

At Brookwood, Stephanie Reese has replaced Brenda Jones, the school’s only principal since it opened in 1988. An educator for 20 years, Reese served as principal at an elementary school in Greenville, S.C., for seven years.

“This is a unique school, very family oriented, very friendly environment,” Reese said. “And that’s exactly what I had where I was from.”

At North Columbia, Laura Hughes is taking over for Kay Sanders, who was principal at the school for a decade. Serving last year as an assistant principal for Evans and Grovetown middle schools, Hughes also was principal of Dearing Elementary School in McDuffie County.

“I’m just in the process of figuring out the best way to make it work, and what things I can have help with,” Hughes said. “The great thing is that I’ve got a great staff who are just willing to do whatever it takes, and that in itself is really going to help.”

Because of state funding cuts for the 2012-13 school year, the Columbia County School Board voted in March to cut 35 teaching positions and nearly 70 teacher aides, which is expected to save the school system about $5 million.

The school’s pupil population is expected to grow by as much as 500 this year, but class sizes are expected to increase by no more than three pupils.

Elementary Education Director Michele Sherman said the reduction of first- and second-grade paraprofessionals will allow the school system to begin hiring substitutes again at the lower grade levels.

One of the biggest changes this year, Superintendent Charles Nagle said, is the implementation of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in English/language arts and math, which are designed to better prepare pupils for college and the workplace.

Nagle, who intends to retire after this school year, said he also expects a 180-day school calendar with no furlough days.