Growing Columbia County seeks teachers

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March 13, 2007

COLUMBIA CTY, Ga.---Columbia County is looking for new teachers to keep up with their booming population.

Several years ago, the county needed 47 new teachers. This year, they need 76.

As you can see, the number of new teaching jobs continues to climb to keep up with enrollment.

More students means more classrooms, for more personal attention between teachers and children like Renee Henry's.

Next year, her nine-year-old is leaving Lewiston Elementary, which has reached around 800 students, and heading to the new elementary school in Grovetown.

"I'm very glad the class is being split," Henry said.

Lewiston assistant principal Dr. Sarah Walls will be the principal of the new school.

"This school is going to continue to's not going to slow down!" Dr. Walls said.

The school board wants to keep up with the two new schools they're building, and with increasing numbers in classes. That's why they're adding 57 new classrooms and 76 new teachers county-wide.

In Columbia County kindergartens, you're only allowed to have 18 students for every teacher. If you add even one more, you need an entirely new classroom.

"We added 800 new students last year, and 6 to 700 this year. Just new students," Columbia County school board chairman Regina Buccafusco said.

Buccafusco says the biggest growth is in the elementary schools. That's why Dr. Walls is hard at work. She's spent more than 50 hours interviewing candidates in the past three weeks.

"There's so many out there...and I want the absolute best for the school," she said.

"They're going to get more one-on-one. I think it will be a lot better for them," Henry said.

And across the county, elementary schools need 24 new teachers, middle schools need one part-time, high schools need 13, and special education needs 17. Add in the other non-core positions, and that totals 76.

Columbia County hopes to have all the positions filled by the summer.

They've already had two teacher fairs, and they say hundreds have already applied.

The school board says the $6 million these additions will cost is coming from the state.

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