School year under way in Columbia County

First day went smoothly, superintendent says

More than 24,000 Columbia County pupils ended their summer Tuesday as they returned to school.

Despite a minor hiccup with a couple of bus drivers calling in sick, Superintendent Charles Nagle said the day went smoothly and was “very quiet.”

“Our schools just do a great job of planning and having things ready,” he said.

Traffic, he noted, is often more congested on the first day of class because many parents opt to drop their children off at school.

At Baker Place Elementary, children and parents filed in well before class started.

About 880 pupils attend the school, now in its second year, said Principal Leeann Fleischauer. That number has risen by about 100 since the start of the 2011 school year.

“We know each other now,” Fleischauer said. “We’re a family now here at Baker Place, and we’ll continue to foster that.”

Growth is expected in schools systemwide. Nagle said enrollment numbers are already more than anticipated and will most likely increase within the next couple of weeks.

That growth could result in more hires, he said.

“There’s a good possibility we could be hiring seven to 10 teachers,” he said. “That’s bad on the budget but good on the growth.”

Before school started at Baker Place, second-grader Kayla Whit­field was already excited about recess on the playground.

The 7-year-old said that while she had a good summer, she’s ready to get back into the classroom and learn “how to count by three.”

For first-grade teacher Katie Homes, the first day gives her the chance to build one-on-one relationships with her new pupils.

“Sometimes, the little kids are a little anxious,” said Holmes, recently named Baker Place’s Teacher of the Year. “As soon as they (the parents) leave, the kids are comfortable in that environment.”

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