October 12, 2005
Most of the middle schools in Columbia County are at capacity. News 12 is on your side with how a new school may help solve the problem.
The school board is looking to build the new school near Fury’s Ferry and Blackstone Camp Road. Several hundred students will be redistricted from other area middle schools so they can learn in classrooms instead of portables.
Thirty-five students fill Casey Heckathom’s physical education class every period of every school day. This number is right under the maximum of forty for a middle school PE class.
“I’m sure you’d like to have less so you can get more individual attention,” Heckathom said.
Riverside Middle School is one of the most crowded in Columbia County. The schools county-wide have up to eight hundred students each, but the school board would like to see that number drop to around six hundred. The Board of Education will add more portables to schools before they will overload class sizes. Last night, Chairman Regina Buccafusco and the rest of the board voted to add five more portables to Columbia County schools.
“You want a smaller campus, you want the students to get to know each other and the teachers to know the students really well. It’s important to keep them small enough so they have that community feeling,” Buccafusco said.
The ratio at Riverside is about one teacher to every 26 students. The schools can’t grow class sizes much more because of a requirement by the Georgia Department of Education.
The fourteen trailers at Riverside and eleven at Evans won’t be necessary anymore once the new school comes to the River Island Subdivision area.
Students on the Fury’s Ferry side of I-20 will be rezoned. The new school will be built for the 2007 school year.
“We’ve got great kids. It’s a lucky situation, and I love coming to work every day,” Heckathom said.
Right now the school board is trying to negotiate a price for the property. Since the area is growing, they say property values are on the rise. They need to have the title approved by November 1.