A small group of parents showed up to Saturday's public forum conducted by the Columbia County Board of Education, but that didn't stop the lively meeting for lasting more than an hour.
Single-sex education, school-to-parent communication and construction of new schools dominated the conversation at Grovetown Middle School.
School board chairman Roxanne Whitaker presided over the forum, only one of which are taking place in each of the county's five school districts.
Evans parent Cherie Portinga brought up the idea of co-educational learning, an idea that could pick up steam because the U.S. Department of Education plans to change its enforcement of Title IX, the landmark anti-discrimination law passed in 1972.
In the 1970s, Columbia County school Superintendent John Pierce Blanchard and the school board made the decision to experiment with same-sex schools.
Portinga said she believes that single-sex schools would help students focus on school and not trying to impress the opposite sex.
The Grovetown school council went through discussions about the issue last year, said Grovetown Middle Principal Carolyn Fries and sent out surveys to parents to gauge the interest level. Fries said the results were indecisive because the respondents were split.
"Grovetown Middle might be a good place to try because of its smaller size," Fries said.
The survey discussion brought forth another point: school-to-parent communication.
One parent said that some parents don't have or don't know how to use computers, making computer surveys unattainable for some. Whitaker said that as students get into high school, papers sent home by the school rarely get into the parents' hands.
Whitaker said that sending home paper copies of announcements and surveys was a possibility in the fall.
Another parent, Laverne Proctor-Streeter of Grovetown, argued that parent orientations should be conducted to help parents better understand the school's handbook and rules.
Columbia County's population growth was also discussed in the meeting.
Whitaker said that the county's rapid growth would require a number of new schools in the next few years. Grovetown or the Greenbrier-area were discussed as the most viable locations for a new high school, possibly as soon as 2007.
Fries commented that her school, which added more than 100 students in the 2003-2004 school year, saw the largest growth in Columbia County. The school is slotted to open with 556 students this fall, but Fries said she would not be surprised if that number was more than 600. The school has the capacity to hold 750 students.
"Maybe we'll get two bleachers for our football field instead of just one," Fries said jokingly.
Whitaker also used the forum to introduce Griffin and Laura Evans, who will take over as Assistant Principal at North Harlem Elementary.
"We have done some good things (at Harlem High)," Griffin said. "I want to continue to do the things academically to help our school. I want to maintain a safe and secure environment for students and teachers."
Griffin previously served as an assistant principal at Harlem High.
Staff Writer Melissa Hall contributed to this article.
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