Changes seen in Buford schools
Growing system adds buildings, dress code

BUFORD - When Buford's school bells ring Thursday, students may see signs of the growth their district is experiencing.

Buford Elementary School, which houses kindergarten through second-grade students, will have a few portable classrooms, and Buford Academy, where third- through fifth-graders attend, is expected to be at capacity for the first time.

Construction on a

35-classroom addition and an auxiliary gymnasium at Buford Academy should be completed by the end of the school year, and the addition will help ease the overcrowding at Buford Elementary, as second-graders will be moved to the academy next year, Principal Joy Davis said.

The district also has plans to build additional classrooms and an auxiliary gym at Buford High School, Superintendent Geye Hamby said.

The Buford school system, like many neighboring county districts, is growing. About 2,850 students are expected to enroll this year in Buford City Schools, Hamby said.

As those students are in a district that last year made adequate yearly progress under federal education guidelines, they will be held to increasingly higher academic standards for the 2007-08 school year.

When asked how the district will continue to keep up the academic success, Hamby smiled, leaned forward and knocked three times on his wooden desk.

"We plan to continue having the same high expectations," said Hamby, who credits the "phenomenal" teachers in the district's achievement.

A systemwide standardized dress code should also help the schools continue to make adequate yearly gains in achievement, Hamby said.

Davis said the dress code may have an "indirect effect" on student achievement, "simply because students aren't worried about what they are wearing."

Ginnie Wiggs, whose daughter Hayden is going into second grade, said she expects the dress code to be easier on parents overall. The initial cost of purchasing clothes was "a big chunk," but Wiggs said she expects the cost of buying clothes to be less over time.

Wiggs said the growth the school district is experiencing is "good, but it's a little overwhelming.

"It's good for the school system," she said. "It's good to be bringing in more people and more diversity."

But Wiggs worries what the growth will mean for families who pay tuition to go to the schools. Her family lives just inside the Hall County line, but the Buford schools are closer to home than the county schools. Buford accepts tuition students based on academics, attendance and behavior, Hamby said.

Wiggs said her family likes the academic programs offered by Buford City Schools, and Hayden is looking forward to buying school supplies and starting the new school year.

"She's looking forward to going back," Wiggs said, "which makes me happy."