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Schools reopen Monday; district seeks input ahead of public forums
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Bryan County Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher said the district is ready to welcome students back Monday after being closed more than a week due to Hurricane Matthew.

“As a whole, we came out pretty good,” Brooksher said of the condition of the schools. “We had some leaks and some spoiled food but nothing major.”

Brooksher canceled classes for Oct. 6 and 7 on Oct. 5 as the storm’s path became more evident and evacuations were ordered. Classes for Oct. 10 and 11 were called off on Oct. 8, and finally on Oct. 10 classes were further canceled for Oct. 12 and 13. Oct. 14 had been a scheduled day off for students.

“We had maintenance people out as early as Saturday afternoon checking on buildings and assessing the situation,” Brooksher said.

The next step is determining what to do about the seven days of missed school — including Sept. 2 when classes were canceled ahead of Tropical Storm Hermine.

“Staff is looking at that right now and we’ll present several options to the school board,” Brooksher said. “We’ll look at the number of instructional days lost and how that will impact the rest of the year. Our calendar doesn’t have weather days built in.”

The district also is moving ahead with community forums Oct. 24 in the east cafeteria at Richmond Hill High School and Oct. 25 in the Richmond Hill Middle School cafeteria — both beginning at 6:30 p.m. — to get input on the impending growth and need for new schools in South Bryan County.

To prepare for those meetings, the board is asking residents to take a two-question survey. Brooksher said the deadline for taking the survey has been extended to Monday. The survey is available at and will also be communicated via the district’s website, Facebook page and mobile device messaging system. The original deadline was Oct. 12.

“We want to gather as much information as possible to prepare for the forums,” he said. “The feedback will help us address people’s questions better.”

Bryan County Schools is expecting to grow by at least 3,500 students over the next decade, with the vast majority of that growth in South Bryan County. The board has discussed the need for an additional high school in Richmond Hill, as well as another middle school and another elementary school.

“Two high schools are in South Bryan’s future, it’s just a matter of when and where,” Brooksher told the board during a work session last month.

The current high school is at 96 percent capacity.

The survey includes two questions, the first of which asks topic people are most interested in learning about when considering one or two high schools in South Bryan County, then offers as options: growth projections, academics, fine arts, athletics, estimated facility costs, estimated operations costs, funding of construction projects, districting, timeline or “other” and has space for feedback.

The second question asks for other questions or concerns. 

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