Back to school in Shelby County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Youngsters in Misty Rutherford’s kindergarten class could barely contain their enthusiasm as they created and colored their &uot;monster&uot; works of art.

Those children were among more than 24,000 students who returned to school in Shelby County last week.

Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major said opening day, Wednesday, Aug. 10, was a good one.

&uot;It was evident our teachers and principals have worked hard to prepare for the children’s return,&uot; Major said.

Major said he saw a lot of excited children and a lot of new faces.

That’s because unofficially the school system gained between 800 and 900 students since the close of school for the summer.

The current total is about 24,500 youngsters, which is up from the 23,600 recorded at the end of the school, Major said.

Of course, the official count won’t come until 20 days into the new school year. But that is a change that Major said will help the school system on next year’s teacher allocations from the state.

Previously enrollment was counted on the 40th day. Major said more students are present for school during the initial 20 days.

In addition to new faces, the school system also sports 31 new portable classrooms putting the total number of portables at 90 systemwide.

But, Major said, &uot;All in all it’s a great opening.&uot;

The new school year also begins with the letting of the bid for a new Chelsea Park Elementary.

The nearly $14 million school is being constructed for a school zone that currently houses about 800 youngsters.

Reflecting the need for more classroom space in Shelby County, the breakdown of 90 portable classrooms as provided by Assistant Superintendent of Operations Tom Ferguson is as follows:

Calera Elementary, three; Calera High, seven; Chelsea Elementary, 15; Chelsea High, none; Chelsea Middle, none; Columbiana Middle, none; Creek View Elementary, 8; Elvin Hill Elementary, none; Helena Elementary, none; Helena Intermediate, four; Inverness Elementary, two; Meadow View Elementary, none; Montevallo Elementary, three; Montevallo Middle, none; Montevallo High, none; Mt. Laurel Elementary, none; Oak Mountain Elementary, none; Oak Mountain Middle, none; Oak Mountain Intermediate, six; Oak Mountain High, none; Pelham High, none; Riverchase Middle, seven; Shelby Elementary, none; Shelby County High, three; Thompson Intermediate, four; Thompson Middle, 11; Thompson High, 10; Valley Elementary, six;

Valley Intermediate, none; Vincent Elementary, none; Vincent High, one and Wilsonville none.

Before the new school year began, there were 59 portable classrooms already in place. Ferguson said in addition to the 31 units added, the school system has ordered five more to take care of increases in enrollment later in the school year.