New schools means changing schools for some in Columbia Co.

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- Columbia County school rezoning will affect Evans, Martinez, and Belair elementary schools.

News 12 talked to parents and administrators at the hearing Thursday night, and for a typically controversial issue, the attitude was overwhelmingly positive.

"He absolutely loves school, which I'm delighted about," mother Katina Joyner said.

For this mother, it doesn't matter where her 5-year-old kindergartener will go next year. All that matters is that he's getting the best education possible.

"I think everybody's pretty much on the same page, you know. We just want the best for our kids, that's all," Joyner said.

That's exactly what Martinez Elementary Principal Wade White says these new schools are intended to do.

"These are state-of-the-art schools. These are schools that are going to be not only some of the nicest schools in the Martinez-Evans area, but the state of Georgia and the whole Southeast," White said.

Belair Elementary will split in half. One half will go to the new Evans Elementary and the other will go to the new Martinez Elementary School.

Two brand new, two-story elementary schools with all the latest technology for a community that is growing faster than the schools can keep up.

"We grew by 735 students this year and that growth alone is an entire school," Superintendent Charles Nagle said.

Because some of the schools here are so outdated -- built in the 50s and 60s -- the plan to build two new schools is good for the taxpayer, too.

"It would cost our taxpayers so much more to renovate these buildings, and then you still wouldn't have the quality building that you would have by building two brand new structures," White said.

"It's going to save the school system about a million dollars a year," Nagle said. "These schools are budgeted and are being paid for through our SPLOST dollars. The money is there. We're not going to have to ... it will not cost the property owners any additional money to their property taxes."

Nagle says the new schools are designed to hold between 900 and a 1,000 kids. The class sizes won't change, just the size of the classroom.

It's already been a five-year process, and there's one more hearing to go. The final approval will be Oct. 9.

Assistant Superintendent Robert Jarrell said if you are confused, feel free to call the Superintendent's Office with your exact address to find out where you live in the zones.

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