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Lots more teachers, lots more students for Gainesville, Hall school year
Both systems growing with new students, faculty to begin fall year
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Amanda Teasley gets her kindergarten classroom ready Thursday with the help of Olandria Mayweather, Lauren Teasley and Kayla Jackson at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy in Gainesville. Teasley had to move her classroom into the what was formerly the art room due to a shortage of classroom space. - photo by Erin O. Smith

As a new school year begins this week, Hall County and Gainesville systems have more students and more teachers.

Gainesville enrollment is increasing at nearly every grade level, and the district has added about 28 positions, most at Gainesville High School and New Holland Knowledge Academy.

All of the new positions are expected to cost the district about $1.8 million in fiscal year 2017.

The high school is expected to be more than 1,900 students this year, about 200 more students, and the district had 8,015 students registered as of mid-July.

In the Hall County school system, Superintendent Will Schofield said during budget hearings the district expects 200 to 400 new students.

About 14 total new teaching positions are likely, at a cost of about $1 million.

The new teachers who reported for orientation last week are part of a group of about 210 teachers new to Hall and 85 new to Gainesville.

Students start classes Wednesday in Gainesville and Friday in Hall.

Orientation for both districts was a combination of cheerleading for the districts and practical information for new teachers.

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield repeated his mantra, “what you do matters,” several times to the county’s new employees.

He said Hall seeks to be a district that has a “willingness to push beyond the status quo.”

“If we’re going to err in the Hall County school system, we’re going to err trying something,” he said.

Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel emphasized the district’s theme, OneGainesville, and the idea of family within the schools.

The city district has hired new English to Speakers of Other Languages teachers at multiple schools.

More than half the city’s students are Hispanic, and 29 percent need extra help learning English.

Laura Herrington, director of limited English proficient programs, told the city’s new teachers the district has about 2,300 English language learners. That is the largest group in the state, considering the system’s size, she said.

She pointed out the district will pay for teachers to get the ESOL endorsement, which gives them additional training to help students with limited English.

New Holland Knowledge Academy is growing “everywhere,” Principal Pam Wood said. She said she expects more than 200 new students this week.

That would bring the school’s enrollment to more than 950 students. The enrollment is about 80 percent Hispanic, she said.

The school added eight positions for 2016-17 — classroom teachers, ESOL teachers, Spanish and a second physical education teacher.

Gainesville High School has about 30 new faculty members, and 17 of those are new positions, Principal Tom Smith said.