Columbia County school administrators are predicting that the school system's population will increase by 484 pupils next school year.
Superintendent Charles Nagle presented this figure at Tuesday's school board meeting, where the board gave final approval to next year's projected enrollment figures for the system's 17 elementary schools.
Administrators expect to present enrollment projections for the middle and high schools in February or March.
"These are beginning projections for us to start the budget," Nagle said.
According to school system documents, the total enrollment in all of the county schools is projected to be 22,256 students next year.
In other business, the board tentatively approved the name Grovetown High School for the county's fifth high school, which is scheduled to open in 2009.
The board agreed on the name by a 4-0 vote. Board member Mike Sleeper abstained, saying he wanted more time to consider the names that were proposed.
Other name suggestions included Liberty, Liberty Park, Horizon, Central and Euchee Creek.
According to research that was provided to the board by Barry Paschal, the publisher of The Columbia County News-Times , the county had a Grovetown High School from at least the early 1900s until the 1940s. Grovetown High, along with Central and Leah high schools, eventually moved its upper grades to Harlem High and became a primary school only.
Also at the meeting, Michelle Paschal, Stevens Creek Elementary School's principal, asked the board to develop a financial plan for the gradual expansion of foreign-language instruction to other elementary schools.
"Instead of quickly declaring that we cannot afford a program of this caliber, we hope you agree that we cannot afford to lose it," she said.
Stevens Creek is the only elementary school in the county that offers a foreign-language program.
The board unanimously elected Roxanne Whitaker as its vice chairwoman for this year, and Fletcher, Harley and Fletcher, an Augusta law firm, was named as the board's legal counsel.
The firm replaces Bill Fleming Jr.
In addition, the school system's Department of Special Services was recognized for receiving the state Department of Education's certificate for highest performance and recognition for excellence in the education of pupils with disabilities.
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