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Columbia County schools resume classes

Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 10:40 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014 12:24 AM
  • Follow Back to school

When pupils in Columbia County head back to school today, some changes will be obvious. Others won’t.

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Grovetown High School teachers make their way to the school's auditorium for a meeting with the principal.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Grovetown High School teachers make their way to the school's auditorium for a meeting with the principal.

Because the school system switched high schools to a seven-period day, those students will attend one more class per day than last year.

“Students were very limited in what they could take as far as electives,” Su­per­intendent Dr. Sandra Carraway said. “So adding a seven-period day allows students more flexibility.”

Students will have the opportunity to enroll in more academic classes, a wider variety of electives or make up extra credits.

“It will help them stay on track to graduate in four years,” Carraway said, adding that the shift to seven periods also allows students to earn four extra credits during their high school careers. “We feel like it’s a great opportunity for all our students.”

Evans High School Principal Don Brigdon said his students aren’t necessarily thrilled to be taking an extra class, but they are excited to have more choices.

“I think it’s going to be great for our kids,” Brigdon said. “It gives them another opportunity, an opportunity to catch up or expand their selections.”

The switch to seven periods also required an adjustment to the school day itself – it will start earlier and end a few minutes later.

The period shift was a factor in the hiring of so many new teachers for the 2014-15 school year.

As high school teachers are taking on an added class, 17 new teaching positions are lightening the load by reducing class sizes to at or below state mandates in core and foreign language classes.

Brigdon said the additional teachers are making it easier for everyone by reducing the teacher-to-student ratio.

Several years ago, the school board was forced to increase class sizes to make up for declining revenues, member Mike Sleeper said.

“One of the only ways we could deal with that was to increase class sizes,” he said.

“We all committed that when the money started coming back (we’d reduce them). It’s a step in the right direction. We’re not back where we were. This is a great start.”

Overall, the school system hired about 200 new teachers – 85 were to fill newly created positions. Carraway said the system is using more than 60 of those new teachers to reduce class size in first, fourth and fifth grades in elementary schools and one grade level in middle schools.

Class sizes are falling even as the school system is seeing rapid growth.

Carraway said she anticipates school to start with nearly 25,000 pupils – more than 400 more than last year.

The first few days of school will show whether any more new hires are needed.

“The enrollment is always going to be going up,” Sleeper said. “Every year we are growing between 400 and 500 students. It’s basically a small school in terms of population (growth) each year.”

FIRST DAYS

COUNTY START

  • Columbia Today
  • Burke Today
  • McDuffie Friday
  • Richmond Monday
  • Aiken Aug. 18
  • Edgefield Aug. 19
COLUMBIA COUNTY SCHOOL SCHEDULE

* (except Lakeside)

LevelWarning bellStartDismissal
Elementary schools8:35 a.m.8:40 a.m.3:40 p.m.
Middle schools7:25 a.m.7:30 a.m.2:35 p.m.
High Schools*7:25 a.m.7:35 a.m.2:45 p.m.
Lakeside High7:30 a.m.7:40 a.m.2:50 p.m.
Comments (4) Add comment
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maandpa
471
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maandpa 08/06/14 - 04:41 am
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Small class sizes

I will believe it when I see it.

wildman
1222
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wildman 08/06/14 - 04:57 am
0
1
Crazy

Carraway and Sleeper are clueless, this may help a very small portion if the students. Again, we cater to the smaller groups instead of the majority. Punish everyone for a few.

Red Headed Step Child
4491
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Red Headed Step Child 08/06/14 - 06:31 am
1
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Not sure how offering the

Not sure how offering the ability to take more classes is a punishment to the students...when I attended high school in Columbia County back in the 80's we had 7 class periods and it worked out great. With all the great technical electives offered in Columbia County how can giving our future work force the ability to gain exposure to those fields a bad thing? One more class can make all the difference in the world to these kids. If some need to use that time for remediation, then that helps them. I see this as a positive move.

AFjoe
5578
Points
AFjoe 08/06/14 - 06:43 am
1
0
Almost like Christmas

For most parents, it's the most wonderful time of the year!

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