School liaisons here to help

By Laura LeveringJuly 29, 2021

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

For some, it might seem like summer just started, but it’s almost time for thousands of students across the Central Savannah River Area to head back to school.

Whether your student is returning to the same school, is new to the area, or is moving to a new location, Melissa (Barrickman) Stover and Cynthia Bishop are here to help ensure a smooth transition.

Both school liaison officers with Child and Youth Services, their primary role is to “assist with transitions associated with military life and facilitate communication among schools, parents and installation leaders.”

One of the biggest challenges Stover said she comes across every year is that many parents who are PCSing to the area don’t make the connection between housing and schools until it’s too late.

“Most families make the decision about where they are going to live as soon as they get here and then realize that where they live determines where they go to school,” Stover said.

That realization can cause problems for families later when enrolling their child(ren) in school.

“Before they go on that 10 days permissive TDY when they get here, they should know that where they live determines where their child goes to school, and that just because they have not moved in, that does not hamper them from enrolling and starting in school,” she explained.

Parents who are aware of the connection often make the mistake of turning to social media or other platforms to help decide where to live and which school(s) they want their child(ren) to attend. When it comes to making these important decisions, Stover said it’s best to refer to the Georgia School Grades Report website ( The website provides school reports for all public elementary, middle, and high schools in Georgia.

“I would be apprehensive of most word-of-mouth and other websites that rank schools,” Stover said. “I can’t tell you what the best school is because I’m not your family … and what is good for one child may be different for another child in their family.”

Although schools are determined by residence, Georgia House Bill 224 “allows military families to attend any public school located within the school system in which the military base, or off-base military housing in which the student resides, is located, provided space is available for additional enrollment.”

The application to request a transfer can be found online at, and should be completed within 30 days of enrollment.

“If parents choose to transfer their child to another school within the Richmond County School system, the parents are required to assume all costs and responsibilities related to transportation of their child – to and from school,” Bishop said.

All students who are entering Georgia public schools for the first time are required to receive a 4-point health screening (Georgia Department of Public Health Form 3300). A certificate of proof of screening is due within 90 calendar days following the child’s first day of school attendance. Parents should schedule a screening with their child’s primary care provider as soon as possible. Those eligible for care at Eisenhower Army Medical Center should call 706-787-7300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

With multiple return dates between the counties, times, open houses, bus routes, school supply lists, and other important information, Stover said it is imperative for parents to check their student’s respective school’s website for the most up-to-date information.

The Columbia County School District website is; the Richmond County School System website is; and the Aiken County Public Schools website is

“Back to school means a lot of preparation,” Stover said. “Even for those who are not going back to school, it will change your traffic patterns for at least two or three weeks, so we ask everyone to just please be patient.”

Anyone with questions or concerns may contact Stover or Bishop at, or They may also call 706-791-7270/4168 or stop by the office, located in Building 44401 on 44th Street.