Bryan County Schools overall had a smooth start to the 2015-16 academic year, according to Superintendent Paul Brooksher.
Brooksher said he visited all 10 school campuses Monday and the start of classes “went great” other than “typical first-day issues” related to transportation and traffic. School officials are looking at any tweaks that need to be made to bus routes, he said.
Brooksher received an “all clear” from Assistant Superintendent Trey Robertson at 5:50 p.m. Monday that all bus-riding students were home from school.
“That’s pretty good for a first day,” Brooksher said.
The school district appears on track to meet its projected enrollment of 8,900 to 9,000 students this year, he said. The total is changing each day, he said, as new students continue to enroll. At the new Bryan County Elementary, for example, 20 new students registered on Monday, pushing the school’s enrollment to 520.
“Some parents think the best time to enroll is the first day of school,” Brooksher said. “That’s tough on our schools, but they do a really good job with it.”
Along with the new Bryan County Elementary School replacing the old BCES in Pembroke, the brand-new McAllister Elementary opened Monday on the sound end of the county.
Both of the new schools still need a few finishing touches, such as some landscaping and adding the school’s names to the signs at their entrances, which were blank Monday. Brooksher did not have a specific time line for that work to be completed.
“Priority one was getting the schools ready for students,” he said. “Teaching and learning is taking place. Cosmetic touches will come.”
McAllister Elementary’s driveway for car-rider traffic was finished Monday afternoon, Brooksher said. The gymnasium at Bryan County Elementary still needs to be completed, which Principal Julie Gannam expects to happen next week.
McAllister did have a first-day glitch, when a water line was struck by a Coastal Electric Cooperative crew installing utility poles in the parking lot. The school was without water for a “short period of time,” and the water main was repaired shortly after 11 a.m., Brooksher said.
The brief outage was “not that unusual” considering all the construction going on in Richmond Hill, according to Brooksher. The school district has encountered similar situations before, he said.
The start of the school year went so smoothly at the four schools in North Bryan that “they look like they’ve been running for a month,” the superintendent said. However, he also pointed out that those schools don’t deal with the amount of traffic that their South Bryan counterparts encounter.
The congestion should ease a bit after the first few days of school, Brooksher said. For example, a number of parents who parked their cars and walked their children to their classrooms on the first day won’t continue to do so.
“The traffic flow was much better (Tuesday), and it will continue to get better over time,” he said. “Each day will get better and better.”