Construction delayed on new Columbia Co. middle school

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A construction delay in the new Columbia County middle school means another year of overcrowding for many students.

The original bid didn't fit the budget, so they're looking for a better deal and pushing the deadline back to August 2008.

Another year means more time in portables.

The county is growing fast...and that means lots of new students every year. The later date means the 630 kids the school can hold will stay put, and classrooms will be crowded for another year.

So many students, so little space.

Misty Kilpatrick's son will be one of over 5000 middle school students heading back to class this August. And that number gets bigger every year.

The new middle school on Blackstone Camp Road will have room for hundreds...but for now, the growing middle school population will stay put until August 2008.

Construction is still going on at the brand new and much bigger Evans middle school...and it will already have five portables once it opens.

Portable classrooms are becoming a common sight across the county.

"I don't think that's good, because if storms come up for one thing, they'd have to come in, and have to go outside away from the school," Kilpatrick says.

Karrie Lehe says the brand new school influenced her family's decision to move in. Her sons will avoid the crowding since they won't be in middle school for another few years.

"Tight classes and a crowded environment was not ideal, so we're very excited," she says.

But uncertainty is a big issue for lots of people. Students from five middle schools will move to different schools to even out the class sizes. Kilpatrick hopes it will keep her son out of the portables.

"Hopefully, prayerfully that won't be a problem."

But for the next two years, all those students might not have anywhere else to go.

The school board says this move will save money. They'll have more time to find a lower bid and hire more staff.

Lots of neighborhoods will be rezoned to make sure schools have an even number of students. This will affect Evans, Greenbrier, Columbia, Lakeside, and Riverside middle schools.