Aiken County School System to hire outside firm to assess enrollment trends, facility usage

Aiken County School System to hire outside firm to assess enrollment trends, facility usage
Aiken County School System to hire outside firm to assess enrollment trends, facility usage

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WJBF)- Some schools in the Midland Valley area are facing overcrowding  as the population grows.

The superintendent’s office began addressing this issue at town halls this Spring. Now parents’ feedback is in, and the board has unanimously approved two measures to address ballooning student enrollment.

As more industry and people come to Midland Valley, its schools are filling up.

That’s why the Aiken County School Board has unanimously decided to hire a professional firm to look at the area’s population trends.

“We’re growing so quickly,” said Aiken County Schools Superintendent Sean Alford. “It’s something that you need to look at a little bit more often than 30 years.”

The study will look at enrollment trends and how the county uses its facilities. Some say the problem of overcrowding should have been foreseen long ago.

“Poor planning has got us in this fix,” said Sarah Johnson, who is on the advisory board for area 3 of Aiken County schools.

Midland Valley High School is projected to be 30 students over capacity next year, according to Johnson.

They already have nine portables outside, and some teachers don’t have classrooms. Next year, the same solutions will be in place, Alford says.

Byrd elementary facing overcrowding. The school board has approved $200,000 to add four portable classrooms to the school next year. And one 4k class will be sent to Jefferson Elementary, where an extra classroom is available.

The study will analyze enrollment trends in three contexts: “hard” lines between districts, “soft” lines between the districts, and within the county as a whole.

Alford says all options, including rezoning, are on the table.

But no decisions will be made until the study wraps up in a few months.

Some say they want to see overcrowded schools expanded, rather then kids be rezoned.

“The area is growing. The jobs are coming. The industry’s coming…you have to keep the facility up with what [is] around it,” said Aiken County parent Chris McCord.

But adding extra space will cost money. Alford says the system dosen’t have the money for expansions currently.

The results of the study are expected to be presented to the board of education sometime between Labor Day and Halloween. A firm has not yet been chosen.

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