TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Students in Dougherty, Baker, Coffee and Tift counties returned to the class room on Tuesday.
And those who attend Horizon Academy in Tifton started their school year in a different building.
About two weeks ago, Tift Schools Superintendent Patrick Atwater received a message, the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) program was closing nine schools including one housed in Tift County, and all those preparing for class had to move.
"They were asked to pack their belongings and move their furniture with very little if any notice when it comes to preplanning," said Atwater. "I was very pleased with the GNET staffing here locally and the support provided out of Lowndes County, but for us, it was an untimely decision."
State inspectors said that the building that's used by the GNETS Horizon Academy, a state program, was no longer up to their standards.
Atwater said the group cited issues with the facility, he said that aside from some small external fixes the building was usable.
"Internally, we felt like they were fine. They were classrooms that our school board had donated free of charge to the state department for the use in GNET. They were classroom spaces we no longer had need for," explained Atwater. "The program had grown in Tift County."
Now, students have been moved to the Northeast Campus of the Tift County High School, where an addition was recently constructed. Atwater said it will only be vacant for the next two years though.
"In the meantime, we will have to work with GNET and work with the State Department of Education to find another solution because we have plans to utilize those classrooms for middle school students in the year 2018," said Atwater.
Oak Tree Psychoeducational Center in Dougherty County got the same shutdown letter from the state, but so far the the system is still using the current building.