Strategic Plan Updates Concerning Early Learning and Horizon Program

Horizon Program and ELC Program Updates

As part of Barrow County School System’s Strategic Navigation Plan, two initiatives under the Academics and Student Success area involved changes to our Pre-K Early Learning locations and our Horizon (Alternative Education) Program location.

The strategic action Items, developed in the spring of 2021 with the input of teachers, parents, the board of education, and community members, state:

  • Relocate the alternative school program to provide increased access and participation in dual enrollment opportunities offered through Lanier Technical College.
  • Provide a safe, nurturing, and challenging learning environment for Pre-K students by establishing an early learning center with age-appropriate indoor and outdoor learning equipment.

Not only will these moves allow for more focused learning and opportunities for students and staff, but they will also help accommodate the increasing student growth our county is experiencing. Barrow County School System is expected to see an influx of over 3,500 students during the next five years based on current projections from new housing developments. As such, we need to be strategic in how we utilize our facilities and student programs as we prepare to welcome so many new enrollees.


Our long-term plan is to have a Pre-K Early Learning Center (ELC) model for both the Winder Cluster and the Apalachee Cluster. This would mean Pre-K students being served in dedicated facilities separate from other elementary students.

  • The Apalachee Cluster ELC would be at 54 West Star Street in Bethlehem.
  • The Winder Cluster ELC would be on the County Line Elementary campus in a classroom pod.

The two cluster ELC facilities would have a targeted opening date of Fall 2025. Specific details will be shared soon.


Starting with the 2024-2025 school year, the Horizon Program will be relocated to a learning pod on the Innovation Campus. The pod allows for 15 classrooms, a teacher workroom, and staff and student restrooms and meets the Horizon Program's needs. While other schools on the campus are in session, the Horizon Program students will stay in the pod for their school day, including eating breakfast and lunch. They will also be supervised at all times.



During the April 30 Board of Education Work Session, Assistant Superintendent of System Operations Joe Perno discussed the need to purchase and install multiple classroom pods due to growing student enrollment numbers. To accommodate and prepare for the growth, the BOE approved the purchase of site work and utilities before installing classroom pods at Apalachee High School, Winder-Barrow High School, and County Line Elementary.

Mr. Perno shared that a pod at CLES would allow that campus to eventually serve as the Winder Cluster Early Learning Center (ELC) Pre-K facility. He added that with the Horizon Program moving from its current location on West Star Street to the pod at the Innovation Campus this fall, the Apalachee Cluster (ELC) Pre-K facility would then be located in that building.

The Horizon Program relocation and the development of cluster Pre-K facilities align with the BCSS System Strategic Plan. The two cluster ELC Pre-K facilities would have a targeted opening date of Fall 2025. Details are now being discussed concerning the changes.


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