The McDuffie County School System will be considering several changes and additions during 2004. Construction and possible policy changes top the agenda for the system, according to Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham.
Decisions will be made this year on the grade structure of the new middle school that is still more than a year away from the start of construction. The board of education will decide to either make it another sixth through eighth grade school or to take eighth away from Thomson Middle and ninth away from Thomson High to form an academy.
"That's something the board will be discussing over the next few months," Dr. Grisham said. "And of course we'll get public input on it too, as we have on other decisions of that type."
Preliminary work on the new middle school will start this year as well. School officials will be meeting with an architect to begin the process of deciding what design needs the new school will have.
The board may also entertain the possibility of out-of-district tuition once again. A motion was made to that effect during a board meeting last year, but it died on the floor because it didn't receive a second.
"We get a lot of requests from parents wanting to come into the county in a legitimate fashion, and that's about the only way they could do it," Dr. Grisham said. "And at the present time it could be an asset in maintaining the proper balance between the elementary school zones. I think that could have an impact."
According to Dr. Grisham, the board will need to take a look at the elementary zoning this year. Adjustments may be needed.
McDuffie County School officials will also have an eye on what the state government does this year. Both Governor Sonny Perdue and leading legislators have mentioned several budget issues that could affect McDuffie County Schools.
"We're very anxious to see what the legislature is going to do this year because the Governor is talking about a 2 percent raise, and yet he's talking about no more state money," Dr. Grisham said. "In effect that takes money away from something in order to generate that 2 percent raise. So I think it will be another tough financial year for us as far as the budgeting process goes."
School officials will also be considering ways to address the Adequate Yearly Progress of TMS and THS. Last year, sub groups in those two schools did not meet AYP according to the No Child Left Behind Act.
Another area of interest for the school system in 2004 is the completion of several construction projects. The physical education and athletic building for THS is scheduled for completion in July, and the addition to Thomson Elementary is currently receiving finishing touches. Also the new tennis courts and bleachers at the THS track are ready for use this year.