Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said first-day operations for Wednesday were “extremely well-planned, smooth and successful.”
“Our successful opening day today is evidence of the consistent dedication by CCSD staff to ensure that all of our students experience a positive school year in a safe environment so they can excel academically beginning on day one,” Petruzielo said.
Enrollment throughout the system reached a total of 38,222 for the first day for the district’s 42 schools, according to preliminary reports.
“The School District anticipates enrollment will continue to rise over the course of the school year … with first-day enrollment 410 students higher than last year,” Petruzielo said in a release Wednesday.
All 4,500 district employees, including more than 2,300 teachers, are now back at work on their respective campuses and in support facilities throughout the county, he said.
Also, the school system’s fleet of 350 buses began their daily transport of about 70 percent of the student population through 1,500 daily bus routes.
Opening day for the district’s newest campuses, Clark Creek Elementary School and the replacement Ball Ground Elementary School, also went off virtually with no incident.
“It went fabulously well,” said Clark Creek Principal Dr. Jennifer Scrivner. “Students were very excited and thankful for a new school building, and we heard lots of positive comments from parents, especially about our assembly with falconer Buster Brown bringing a RedHawk, our mascot, to the school.”
Clark Creek, on Hunt Road off Highway 92 in southwest Cherokee County, welcomed 873 students for the first day of classes.
“With 135,000 square feet of space, this facility helped to relieve overcrowding at Boston and Oak Grove elementary schools and was designed to eventually accommodate 1,250 students,” Petruzielo said.
The new facility replacing the former Ball Ground Elementary School is now located on Valley Street in downtown Ball Ground. The school welcomed 525 students on the first day to begin filling the 146,000-square-foot building which will be able to house more than double that amount of children.
Petruzielo said the existing Ball Ground campus was too small and outdated.
“With the capacity for 1,200 students, the school will serve the northwest Cherokee County area as it continues to see population growth,” Petruzielo said.
Construction on these two projects was funded using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, revenues.
Both of these locations also function as sites for the first phase of the district’s Cherokee Academies initiative, which serves to increase academic choice within the school system.
Along with Canton and Holly Springs elementary schools, the two new schools serve as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM Academies. Hasty and Oak Grove elementary schools also opened as Fine Arts Academies.
Some other notable changes in the district’s academic choice options include the renaming of two programs. CrossRoads Middle and High School is now an Alternative Choices in Education, or ACE, Academy; and Polaris Evening School is now Polaris Evening Program.
Noting concerns regarding the heat and temperatures reaching the mid-90s Wednesday, district officials are reassuring parents their children’s safety is a top priority.
All policies to curb heat exposure are being followed at all campuses, including limiting the time students spend on school buses, allowing students to bring bottled water on school buses and following guidelines for rescheduling and canceling outdoor extracurricular activities, when necessary, due to high temperatures.