ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County School System will begin its 2011-12 school year on Aug. 1, while most other area systems will open later in the month.
Earlier last week, DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree urged all of the county's 16,000-plus public school students to be in school on day 1.
In Albany, Sherwood Christian and Byne schools will start the school year on Aug. 12. Deerfield-Windsor School will begin classes at its lower school campus on Aug. 12, but its upper school will open Aug. 15.
Mitchell County schools will open Aug. 2, Worth County schools Aug. 8, Lee County schools Aug. 12 and Terrell County schools Aug. 15.
The Dougherty County School System announced Friday that a decision has been made to start the DCSS Pre-K program for 4-year-olds on the same day as the rest of the system. Because of reduced funding for Pre-K, many parents had been informed that Pre-K would not start until a week later.
The DCSS will hold open houses July 31 in each of the system's 26 schools. Open houses will be held at elementary schools from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., middle schools from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m., and high schools -- for incoming freshmen parents only -- from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tenth- through 12th-grade high school parents will have a special open house Sept. 1.
The bell schedule to begin and end the school day in Dougherty County remains as it was last year: Elementary begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.; middle school begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m.; and high school begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.
The system maintains its policy for elementary school uniforms for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students may wear a white or blue collared shirt, plus one more of each school's chosen spirit color. Pants, shorts, skirts or jumpers are to be khaki or navy blue.
New enrollees at a school need proof of residency -- a utility bill -- at the time of registration.
The DCSS emphasized that bus riders must complete a transportation request at the child's school at the time of registration. Students who have not made application for transportation will not be allowed on buses. This measure helps the system's transportation department make the most efficient routes and schedules possible.
At Lee County, School Superintendent Lawrence Walters is excited about the direction the system is headed.
"We have a lot going on over here," Walters said. "Next week, we will begin the renovation of our cafeteria to add 250 more seats to the lunch room, and by the end of the year we plan to begin construction of a new elementary school (at Lee Street and Lover's Lane Road)."
Walters added that the Lee County School System's student population has increased by at least 100 pupils to 6,700 and said, "We are registering new students every day; our registrar is booked into August."
New students registering in the LCSS need proof of residency (a utility bill), immunizations records and school records if the student is a transfer.
The LCSS superintendent also said the system has rebuilt its website and hopes to direct more traffic to it for distribution of system news.
At Deerfield, spokeswoman Laurie Allen said both upper and lower school buildings have undergone upgrades.
"We've had huge renovations at both campuses," said Allen. "We've installed new carpeting throughout the buildings, also fresh paint in both. We've refurbished the art and band rooms, torn up and replaced the track, resurfaced our tennis courts and installed some new bleachers at the football stadium."
At Sherwood Christian, the Eagles will welcome Brian Dougherty as new upper school principal and assistant headmaster.
"We have just had to open another first-grade class this week, so we are excited about what is in store for the coming year," SCA spokeswoman Amy Parr said.
SCA also has a new athletic director. Eddie Dixon will be moving into the Eagles' brand-new 10,000-square-foot field house. Michael Sons, who was the school's girls varsity basketball coach last year, will also take the reins of the boys program.
Otis Covington has been promoted from assistant football coach to head football coach.