Does size really matter?
The Columbia County Board of Education voted Tuesday to form a committee to decide whether it would be better to add classrooms to existing high schools or build a new school.
The board is at the end of a five-year plan that allows high schools to be as large as 1,800 students. But a lot has changed in that five years - events such as the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. That incident made smaller schools more attractive for safety reasons.
"I've never heard a parent complain about the size of a school, because sometimes a little extra size brings more things to the table in the way of student offerings," said trustee Lee Muns. "But a school can be too large, and I think we would like our community schools to be somewhat personal."
The school system had plans to add 15 classrooms at Lakeside High School and 10 more at Evans High School by the fall of 2002. Twenty-two rooms might be added at Greenbrier High School.
For the Evans and Lakeside additions, the system must make application for state funds within the next two months, if the board decides simply to add classrooms to existing schools.
System officials also have the option of letting that money accrue to build a new school.
However, a new school requires more time and money. School Superintendent Tommy Price said it would be at least five years before a new one could be built, and it likely would take about $9 million in local money alone. The county's newest school, Greenbrier Middle, cost about $11 million, including nearly $7 million in local money.
The committee also will be charged with examining the need for additional central office space.
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.