Columbia County school officials expect student populations to continue to climb next year, especially after enrollment outpaced predictions this year.
School Superintendent Charles Nagle told school board members Tuesday that "very conservative" estimates are that an additional 458 students will enter the system for the 2010-11 term.
"We grow by about the size of an elementary school every year," Nagle said.
School officials this year had predicted gains of 261 students, but instead the system grew by more than 500.
"It's amazing to me that we've grown by 5,000 students in the past 10 years," said board Chairman Regina Buccafusco.
In anticipation of meeting those rising numbers, officials expect to open bids Nov. 10 for construction of a new elementary school near Grovetown High School.
Eight prospective bidders attended a pre-bid conference and picked up information on the project this past week, said the school system's Construction and Maintenance Director, Tim Beatty.
Also Tuesday, board members indicated their preference for holding all five high school graduation ceremonies on the same day rather than adding a second day of exercises at an additional $7,000 expense.
The result, with Grovetown High School added to the day-long series of ceremonies, will create a handshaking "marathon" for central office staff and administrators and members of the school board who typically attend all of the graduations.
"Suck it up, bring the Tylenol and just do it," joked board member Wayne Bridges. "I'd rather do it all in one day and save $7,000."
The school system is under contract to hold the ceremonies May 22 at James Brown Arena in Augusta at a cost of $11,700, Nagle said.
The staff of Grovetown High School initially had hoped to hold their first graduation ceremony on their football field. However, when the school opened, officials found they had far more seniors than expected with 151.
That meant if bad weather forced the ceremony into the gym, there wouldn't be room for all the family members to attend, Nagle said.
The schedule settled Thursday calls for Evans High School to begin the day at 9 a.m., followed by Greenbrier at 11:30 a.m., Lakeside at 2:30 p.m., Harlem at 5 p.m. and Grovetown at 6:30 p.m.
Also, the board approved promoting Brookwood Elementary School EIP teacher Melani Herren as the school's new assistant principal.
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