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Schools gearing up for year, more students
Here's a surefire sign that school is back in swing: Members of the Richmond Hill High School marching band practice on Tuesday at the high school parking lot.
School hours 2010-11

SCHOOL                      OPENING TIME           CLOSING TIME

RHPS                             8:25 a.m.                3:25 p.m.
RHES                             8:25a.m.                 3:25 p.m.
CES                              8:25 a.m.                 3:25 p.m.
RHMS                           7:40 a.m.                 2:40 p.m.
RHHS                           7:40 a.m.                 2:40 p.m.
LPS                              8:15 a.m.                 3:00 p.m.
BCES                            8:00 a.m.                 3:05 p.m.        
BCMS                           8:00 a.m.                 3:05 p.m.
BCHS                           8:00 a.m.                 3:10 p.m.
Even a prolonged recession isn’t stopping growth at Bryan County Schools.
When school begins Aug. 4, officials expect the system to reach or surpass 7,400 students this year, up from last year’s mark of about 7,230.
By contrast, in 2008-2009 the system had a population of around 6,800. And it has been growing roughly 5 percent for the last three years, according to Brad Anderson, assistant superintendent.    
“The two years prior to that it was more than 6 percent” he said. “We have increased student population every year for the past 10 years.”
Much of the growth is coming in Richmond Hill. And it comes at a time when the system is cutting spending to reflect shrinking state funding.
The system had more than 900 employees last year and has about 820 this year.
That won’t impact the system’s core mission of educating the county’s children, according to superintendent John Oliver.
“We’re not introducing anything new and different, but we are maintaining what we have in place,” he said.
- That means no four-day school weeks, as some districts are reportedly planning.
- It also means no teacher furlough days. The BoE’s proposed $47.9 million general operating budget -- 80 percent of which goes to salaries -- includes wiggle room if there are more state cuts.
And despite cuts and personnel losses, Bryan schools have about 25 new teachers this year, including an average of one teacher per grade from kindergarten to eighth grade in Richmond Hill, to handle the growth.
Unlike last year, when the BoE introduced staggered start times, there are no major changes in store for this school year.
“Staggered start times seemed to work well last year ... and give our parents credit, they have made this work. We’re very appreciative of that,” Oliver said.
He urged parents who pick up or drop off students at schools to have patience, and asked that motorists be careful around schools and school buses.
“Starting Wednesday, Aug. 4, buses are running, kids are crossing streets. We hope drivers take special care all over, but particularly special care near the schools.”

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