The Columbia County school board Tuesday appointed Deputy Superintendent Sandra Carraway as head of the school system in 2013.
Carraway received a standing ovation from the audience after board members unanimously voted her as successor to retiring Superintendent Charles Nagle.
After a 2½-month search, Carraway was one of 18 applicants vying for the position. She was named the lone finalist in November after another candidate dropped out.
School board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said she felt that Carraway “stood head and shoulders above every candidate in the pack.”
“Dr. Carraway earned every single vote she got from the board members,” she said.
Carraway will officially be the county’s next school superintendent once she finishes contract negotiations.
Tuesday’s meeting was the last for trustee Wayne Bridges, who will be replaced in January by David Dekle in District 1.
“It has been a privilege and an honor,” said board member Roxanne Whitaker. “We’re going to miss you.”
Also at the meeting, Nagle presented projected school enrollment figures for 2013-14. Administrators anticipate enrollment to increase systemwide by 420 pupils to a total population of 24,750.
Evans and Martinez Elementary schools are likely to see the largest enrollment gains next year, while Grovetown Middle School is expected to lose the most pupils.
Both elementary schools will gain about 220 pupils, bringing total enrollment estimates to 679 at Evans Elementary and 687 at Martinez Elementary.
The steep jump in enrollment is attributed to new zoning prompted by the opening of one elementary school and the closing of another. Half of Bel Air Elementary School’s pupils will move to the new Evans Elementary School, which opens in 2013. Martinez Elementary School will move to the Bel Air campus while a new school is built on its current campus.
Grovetown Middle School will lose about 150 pupils next year to alleviate overcrowding. A middle school rezoning was approved Nov. 27 will reduce the school’s population to about 865 pupils.
As part of the rezoning, the new Columbia Middle School likely will gain 122 pupils and become the county’s largest middle school at 977 pupils. Evans Middle School’s population could rise by as much as 189 pupils for an overall enrollment of 954 pupils.
Within county high schools, Grovetown is expected to grow by nearly 100 students and Lakeside could lose about 30 students. The schools’ total enrollment estimates are 1,622 and 1,620, respectively.