The opening of Stallings Island, Columbia County's eighth middle school, will not be the only change for the school system this year.
About 1,100 pupils will attend a new middle school because of rezoning to accommodate Stallings Island.
The rezoning, which shifted pupils at all of the county's middle schools, will eliminate some use of portable classrooms, relieve overcrowded facilities and balance school enrollment.
The school system also has added 30 teaching positions and six bus drivers. In addition, 14.5 support staff positions have been added at Stallings Island.
These positions are: a principal, 1.5 counselors, a media specialist, three secretaries, a media clerk, a teacher support specialist and six custodians.
Not all of the changes can be attributed to the new middle school.
The system adopted new math and science textbooks this year. New high school textbooks, which will be used primarily by ninth-graders, are aligned with Georgia Performance Standards and the new high school graduation requirements that apply to this year's freshmen class and subsequent classes.
School officials also plan to launch a "cashless school" initiative at Riverside Elementary, Evans Middle and Greenbrier High.
The pilot program will enable parents to make online payments for various school fees, including field trips, athletic tickets, caps and gowns, club dues, fundraisers and yearbooks.
The elementary school gifted program, Horizons, also change. Riverside Elementary qualified for school-based instruction this year because of the amount of pupils who are eligible for the program.
Last year, the school system expanded Horizons to River Ridge, Lewiston, Greenbrier and Stevens Creek elementary schools. A Horizons learning center also was set up a year ago at Euchee Creek Elementary for pupils from Euchee Creek, Grovetown, Cedar Ridge and North Harlem elementary schools.
The pupils from the remaining eight elementary schools will continue to travel to Westmont Elementary, where all of the Horizons pupils previously were bused until last year.
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