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School start to shift in '07

WINDER - School already has started in Barrow County this year, but students will spend next August on beaches and couches instead of at their desks.

The first day of school in 2007 will be pushed back at least two or three weeks as the district tries to finish most construction projects - including a major renovation at Winder-Barrow High School - before students return to the

classrooms.

Superintendent Ron Saunders said classes that are due to end May 25 this year will probably not finish in 2008 until the first week in June. Whether students will still get a fall

break has yet to be

determined.

The following year, the end of summer vacation will begin to move closer to May again, Saunders said, with the district pushing its start date back a week or so at a time until it is back to an early August

beginning.

The final schedule for the 2007-2008 school year has not yet been set.

Construction at Auburn Elementary, Statham Elementary, Holsenbeck Elementary and Winder-Barrow High schools is the cause of the longer summer. As more students move into the county, the district is looking for ways to accommodate them by expanding buildings and upgrading facilities.

This year, 80 portable classrooms will be used for the district of 11,045 students, Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Jake Grant said. About 30 of those are at Winder-Barrow High School. Statham Elementary has 21 and Holsenbeck

has 18.

The district wants to have a 900-student capacity at each elementary school, 1,200-student capacity at the middle schools and space for 1,800 students at each of the two high schools.

But, Grant said, even that may not be enough.

"The capacity just is not going to keep pace with the growth," he said. "This is all we're able to do for the next five years, no matter how many kids come or don't come to our schools."

Other projects in the district completed this summer include air conditioning gyms in the elementary schools and construction of a bus lane at Auburn Elementary.