Georgia School Superintendent Dr. John Barge visited Long County on Wednesday. While in Ludowici, he stopped by the new Long County High School and took a tour of the facility, courtesy of Principal Scotty Hattaway and Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters.
Barge explored the early childhood career pathway lab and the pre-kindergarten classroom. Waters told the state’s top education official that the new lab allows the system to promote teaching and “grow” teachers in Long County. Barge sat on the floor with high-school students who assisted the pre-K teacher and played with the younger children.
He also visited several other labs and classrooms in the school, taking time to watch the high-school band practice for its upcoming trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. After the tour, Barge praised the new high school and the Long County School System.
“This is a beautiful new high school. You can tell that there was a lot of thought put into it. The brick walls, the terrazzo flooring — it was designed very efficiently and practical to save money,” Barge said.
He commended the school system for building the new high school without raising taxes, but said he knows it wasn’t easy to do, given recent funding cuts. Barge, who is running for governor, said that even though Georgia’s SAT and ACT scores are at an all-time high, many school systems are struggling just to get by.
“We have to restore the funding to the school districts. With the length of time that schools have had to deal with these reductions, many school systems’ finances have dwindled to just about nothing. They’re having to cut calendars with furloughs or raise taxes and, in many communities, with what they get from a mil increase, it just isn’t enough,” Barge said.
Hattaway expressed gratitude for Barge’s visit and said he was proud to show off the new high school.
“We’re very excited about showing off our new palace to the superintendent. He’s a former CTAE (Career, Technical and Agriculture Education) director, so he had an impact on some of the funds that we received. I’m glad that we could show him that we have been good stewards with that money and used our square footage wisely,” Hattaway said.
Long County Board of Education member Julie Dawson also walked the campus with Barge and presented him with a gift basket on behalf of the school system and Long County.
“It’s a great honor that he chose our district to come and visit,” Dawson said. “From everything he said, he was impressed with our new high school, and that’s good, because our high-school students are our future.”