Fort Mill may soon need new schools, which means another bond referendum could be held as early as March.
The Fort Mill school district is considering a referendum to finance two new elementary schools and a sixth middle school. The borrowing could reach more than $200 million, but planning is in the early stages, district officials say.
In May 2015, voters approved a $226 million Fort Mill school bond package.
The district opened its fifth middle school, Pleasant Knoll Middle School, in August, as part of that bond. Catawba Ridge High School, Fort Mill’s third high school, is scheduled to open in 2019 off Fort Mill Parkway.
The Fort Mill school board selected board members during their Tuesday meeting who will serve on a referendum subcommittee for the newest bond program. Board members, along with key members of the community, will discuss moving forward with a referendum and what projects should be included.
Fort Mill school administrators brought a recommendation to the board at a Sept. 25 retreat.
The recommended bond package, which the board has not yet approved and may change, officials stressed, includes the new schools, the purchase of 20 school buses, large maintenance projects throughout the district, land purchases for future school sites and technology needs, said Jim Britton with Cumming Corp., a Fort Mill-based construction management company.
The talk of new schools comes amid rapid growth throughout the district.
The district had 14, 955 students as of the 10th day of school this year, Britton said.
Earlier this year, Fort Mill had to freeze new student enrollment at Doby’s Bridge Elementary School, which opened four years ago, and at Gold Hill Elementary School.
More than 12,000 new single-family and multi-family units may be coming to the Fort Mill school district in the next 10 years, said Dale Holden, the district's outside consultant. They include units in the City of Tega Cay, Town of Fort Mill and York County.
The units include those that have been approved or permitted, but have not yet been built and those that have started the building process, Holden said. Many are on schedule to start in 2017 through 2020.
Based on projections, the district is expected to exceed capacity for elementary students in 2020 and for middle school enrollment in 2021, Britton said. Over the next decade, the district will need to open three more elementary schools, with the first available for the 2020-21 school year, Britton said.
The company also recommends the district open two more middle schools in the next 10 years, with the first available in 2021.
A new high school is not in the district’s immediate future based on current numbers, Britton said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082