With 1999 just a day away, Columbia County school board members face some big issues in the coming year.
The search for a new superintendent, a new middle school, the school system's budget and block scheduling all top the list of challenges for the school system.
While the superintendent search will be the biggest undertaking in 1999, it won't be the school board's first.
"I really don't expect it to get going until about March," school board Chairman Ray Hicks said. "It gives the two new board members the time to see what they really need to do and get input from them."
Besides, Mr. Hicks said, the budget process requires the board's attention early in the year and most superintendent candidates under contract elsewhere would not be able to begin work until July.
With interim Superintendent Tommy Price serving in the meantime, new board members Mildred Blackburn and Regina Buccafusco -- who take office Monday -- said they have no problems with moving slowly.
"I'm willing to let Mr. Price stay in interim for a few months," Mrs. Buccafusco said. "When we do put a committee together we can give them a good direction of what we're looking for rather than just throwing out the fishing net and seeing who comes and catches it."
Outside of the bigger issues, board members have items they would like to see addressed during the year.
Board member Debbi Brooks said she would like to see the school system move further with a strategic plan it has been working on since 1996.
"It's kind of been put on the back burner," she said.
Redistricting school zones could become an issue later in the year as plans for the new Greenbrier Middle School progress. Board members, however, don't expect the middle school redistricting to be as trying as when Greenbrier High School opened.
"It's always difficult when you move people from their home school," Mr. Hicks said. "But I don't believe it will be as bad as last time because the high schools are always the ones that are worse."
And even though block scheduling has unofficially been put on hold until the fall of 2000, board members expect discussions on the alternative schedule proposal to continue through 1999.
"We are continuing to do some study on the block scheduling," Mrs. Blackburn said. "I think to wait a year is going to be the way we're going to need to go."