Summer vacation ends today for thousands of Columbia County children as classes resume Monday for public schools and some private schools.
While many pupils look forward to starting a new school year, the first day will be bittersweet for many at Lakeside High School.
Just a week prior to opening day, Lakeside sophomore Nicholas Hartfield, 17, drowned in the rapids of the Savannah River while hanging out with friends at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
Lakeside Assistant Principal Melanie Sprouse said counselors will be on hand Monday to help grieving students.
Though the circumstances certainly are not as tragic, many pupils at other schools might miss some things this school year too.
To help make up $21 million in lost funding since 2007, school officials included five furlough days for teachers in this year's school calendar, shortened the calender two days by eliminating some pre-planning and post-planning days, cut out scheduled parent-teacher conferences in favor of staff development, initiated a phase-out of Spanish-language classes in middle schools, and created a new schedule for arts instruction in elementary schools.
Spanish classes once were offered to seventh- and eighth-graders, but now the course is an option only for eighth-graders who already have taken the seventh-grade class. Next year, the program will be eliminated.
Elementary pupils once would see music or art teachers every five days. The pupils now will see those teachers just once every six days. The added day allows more schools to share music and art instructors, meaning fewer are needed.
Money problems likely will worsen next year, Superintendent Charles Nagle said. Nagle said he hopes to avoid overburdening teachers with more classroom cuts. He said a committee will examine possible cuts to middle-school sports programs.
To save as much as $100,000 on fuel costs, school bus drivers no longer will be allowed to take buses home with them. The buses must be parked at designated schools or the transportation office on Columbia Road each day, said Transportation Director Dewayne Porter.
To ensure minimal disruption, bus drivers practiced their routes last week.
Also as a means to keep disruptions to a minimum, workers repairing the roofs of Stevens Creek and Riverside elementary schools will do so at night.
Facilities Director Tim Beatty said repairs should be finished by October.
Though Stevens Creek and Riverside both withstood some minor flooding due to leaking roofs from heavy rains last week, Beatty said they and all other schools should be ready for classes on Monday.
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