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Student enrollment numbers rise in Long County
Long County teachers
Long County School System recognized its Teachers of the Year Monday during a school board meeting. Board of Education members, School Superintendent David Edwards, and principals Wregina Carryl, Dr. Patricia Krumnow, Beverly Hill, and Sherry Lester stood by Teachers of the Year Jessica Edwards, Victoria Peterson and Tarsa Podunavac. Not pictured is Alisha Burkhalter. (Photo/Denise Etheridge)

Student enrollment at Long County public schools continues to climb, according to Long County School Superintendent David Edwards.  Edwards told Long County Board of Education members Monday during a regular meeting that enrollment numbers the first two weeks of school shows a marked increase from last year.

“The district, as a whole, saw 3,848 students report to class,” Edwards said.  The district as a whole saw 142 students not show up who were registered; bringing the total number of enrollment as of the first week to 3,990, according to Edwards.

Smiley Elementary had 993 students attend the first week, McClelland Elementary tallied 866 children enrolled, Long County Middle School had 940 students, and Long County High School totaled 1,049 pupils the first week of school, according to the superintendent.  Edwards added that he expects these numbers to increase slightly as the school year gets further along.

Edwards informed school board members that the elementary schools are currently experiencing an increase in the number of drop-off and pick-up traffic from last year.

“Parent pick-up at McClelland Elementary has doubled since last year,” he said. Last year McClelland had 80 students signed up for parent pick-up; this year the number is 190. Smiley also saw a lot of traffic, although its pick-up numbers are at 278 this year, compared to 300 last year.

School officials also informed the board that bus ridership was down roughly 150 riders the first week of school, but they expect that number to rise. The district is scheduling double runs of buses; four early and four late, because of a bus driver shortage. The system had hired eight new drivers, but six of them left for other job opportunities prior to the start of the new school year.

The board then approved a new bus driver training program, to strengthen retention of bus driver hires.

Three bus driver candidates will train a minimum of four hours per week, and will be used as bus monitors where needed prior to driving a bus. They will be paid $10 an hour for a 40-hour week for eight weeks.

Board members voted to advertise the 2019 Property Digest. The board intends to set the millage rate at its Sept. 9 meeting. The BOE intends to approve a 14.48 mil rate. The millage was 14.49 last year.

The school board also recognized its Teachers of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year.

Alisha Burkhalter is Teacher of the Year for Smiley Elementary School; Jessica Edwards is Teacher of the Year for McClelland Elementary; Victoria Peterson is Teacher of the Year for Long County Middle School; and Tarsa Podunavac is Long County High’s Teacher of the Year. Each was presented a plaque and a bouquet of flowers. Burkhalter was unable to attend the recognition ceremony due to caring for an injured family member.

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