News 12 at 11/ Tuesday, August 12, 2014
RICHMOND & COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- Students in South Carolina are enjoying their last week of summer before they hit the books, but students in Georgia are back in class.
Columbia County leaders admit it's been a bumpy ride, however it's been smooth sailing in our area's largest county. News 12 is on your side with a tale of two counties.
The first day of school is full excitement and learning curves for students and teachers.
"We always have issues with bus routes the first couple of weeks," said Richmond County Deputy Superintendent Tim Spivey.
Spivey says welcoming back 30,000 students isn't easy especially when a lot ride the bus.
"We did have one school where some students got on the wrong bus. We took them on home which made us late for the middle school, but other than that we had a really great day," Spivey told News 12.
Richmond County saw less transportation issues than Columbia County and Spivey believes hiring is the reason.
"We recruited very hard over the Spring and Summer, so we had a driver for every bus," said Spivey.
It's a move Mike Sleeper with the Columbia County School Board agrees with and says will happen for their county, too.
"Increase our recruiting for drivers. Instead of just the summertime, to do it as a year round process," Sleeper told News 12.
Buses aren't the only concerns. So is space. While one county is phasing schools out, the other one doesn't have enough of them. It's a problem Sleeper says is actually good.
"There is no stagnant state. You are either growing or you are dying. I'm glad we are growing. I'd rather be dealing with that problem than the alternative," he said.
Spivey says it's too early to tell how many new students the county enrolled thanks to Cyber Command, but there's no denying the neighboring county is getting a lot of it.
"We expect about 60 percent of those families are moving to Columbia County and about 35 percent to move into Richmond County," he said.
Spivey admits only time will tell if the math adds up that way.
To help with the growth, Columbia County is in the process of adding 12 classrooms to Baker Place and Cedar Ridge Elementary.
Richmond county says they're also building a new school in West Augusta despite phasing out others.