On Friday, school bells will ring in the 2007-2008 academic year and thousands of students will make their way into classrooms across the county. Some kids will be stepping foot into a classroom for the very first time. Others will be wrapping up their final year of high school.
We have high hopes for each of them.
We also have reason to hope this year will go much smoother than its predecessor, which too often was marked by controversy over matters that had little to do with what went on inside the classroom.
Truth is, it’s hard to imagine a term that could go much worse than the 2006-2007 school year, when controversy followed controversy before giving way to true tragedy with the deaths of three Bryan County High School students in a car crash in April.
Perhaps that one terrible incident put much of what had taken place before in some sort of perspective and reminded us all that there are things more important than uniforms or who leads a band.
But for a while it certainly seemed controversy ruled the day, even as good things were happening.
The year started contentiously over the location of new classrooms and heated up when school officials, citing a legalistic term called sovereign immunity, denied Richmond Hill High School's award-winning band a chance to perform in Washington, D.C. Of course, we can't forget that the band director's contract wasn't renewed after the furor over the missed band trip.
And then came school uniforms, which seemed a done deal until the last minute, and controversy over a decision by school administration to keep a young Pembroke man convicted of killing a teacher and her 5-year-old son in a car crash from speaking on local school campuses.
There was even some controversy over a land purchase and possible BoE plans to build near Fort Stewart in an area that would be impacted by noise from training. Much of the blame for the turmoil was heaped squarely on the shoulders of Dr. Sallie Brewer, Bryan County’s superintendent of schools. Ironically, there was little complaint over the quality of education – which is likely one of the reasons South Bryan County has experienced such a headlong rush of growth in recent years. Even with two schools not making AYP, it’s safe to say Bryan County’s school district is one of the best in the state.
Interestingly, those who claim Brewer runs the district as if it’s her own were loath to give her any credit at all for the good news coming from the county’s schools. And in fairness, some of the issues that created such a stir last school year were beyond the school board's control.
Hopefully that's all water under the bridge now.
With a new year comes a new chance for all to get on track and focus on what really matters, such as educating this community's youngsters and helping them become happy, healthy and productive citizens.
And on a related note, remember to obey the speed limits in school zones and follow the rules of the road when driving near school buses. The safety of all our children is at stake.
Bryan County News
Aug. 8, 2007