COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Columbia County public schools experienced major growth in classrooms sizes this year.
"We projected to grow by 394 students this year," said Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway, "but instead it comes in about 179 above that number. So needless to say, we're a growing school system and we prepare for the growth, but when you grow at those rapid rates it's very difficult."
And that it has been, adding more classrooms and buses to accommodate the student's needs.
"This year we've utilized about 17 additional portable classrooms in three different elementary schools," Carraway said. "So, growth is becoming a problem for us."
Which raises concerns for some parents.
"Overcrowding is not ideal," said parent Tiago Maia. "Our kids won't get the necessary attention they need to get the education they need."
But the school system thinks they have a solution that benefits everyone.
"We'll build a new school on the Grovetown Elementary site. A much larger school will help accommodate some of the growth at Baker place and Cedar ridge Elementary," Carraway said.
But that's not the only change. One of the oldest and smallest middle schools in the county, Harlem Middle School, will be getting a new building in hopes of overcoming the overcrowding in the Columbia County middle schools.
"I'm glad they're being proactive," said parent Amie Squires.
A project this big requires major funds. Luckily, with Columbia County's 1-cent sales tax, this project can get done without asking for more money.
"That's a wonderful thing to say that we don't have to add debt," Carraway said. "We're able to pay for those buildings by a simple 1-cent sales tax added to anything purchased in the system."
That makes some parents happy, too.
"I'm glad that they're taking the right steps to address something that is critical as our kids' education," Maia said. "I'd rather see investments go to that area rather than other areas that I think is not so important."
The 1-cent sales tax bill is already in place for Columbia County and will need to be re-passed in March 2015 to secure the expansions of the county schools.