Originally created 07/10/01

Building of school gets focus



The Columbia County Board of Education will likely begin debate tonight on whether or not the county needs another high school.

With the recent reclassification of Evans High School into the 5A category, building a new school has become an issue. Columbia County's growing student population and the state's required lower class sizes has created the need for more classrooms.

School Superintendent Tommy Price recently told the board the school system has the option of adding another 25 classrooms at Greenbrier High School or building a new high school. Mr. Price added that both Lakeside and Evans are already taxed by their large student populations.

While constructing more classrooms appears the most financially feasible idea, it might not be the best when safety is considered, Mr. Price said.

"There was once a time when you couldn't build schools big enough. But now in this safety conscious era, you can't build them small enough," Mr. Price said. "But of course, you have to have it a certain size so you can offer a full curriculum."

The ideal size, Mr. Price said, is around 975 students, but the state will provide funding for the construction of a school with 500 or more. Columbia County has about 5,000 high school students at the four schools.

Also at the meeting, the board is expected to revise its policy allowing students who have not passed the Georgia High School Graduation Test to participate in graduation ceremonies.

This revision includes a stipulation that would delineate whether students graduate with a certificate of completion or a diploma.

"When these kids meet the requirements for graduation, we essentially close our doors to them," Board Trustee Lee Muns said. "I want to see everyone get a high school diploma, but this is a milestone in life. It's a do or die situation. But I agree with the (other board members) that it should be clearly delineated what they are receiving."

Columbia County had 22 students this year who completed graduation requirements but did not pass all portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to receive a high school diploma.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.

Board meeting

Who: Columbia County Board of Education

When: Today

Where: Evans government complex

Time: 6 p.m.