School officials study new enrollment figures

FORT MILL -- Faced with a March referendum that could build two new elementary schools and a middle school, school officials on Monday studied the latest enrollment figures, which continue to inch upward.

The greatest crunch is at the elementary schools, all of which are expected to be at or beyond capacity during the 2008-2009 school year.

All kindergarten seats are filled at Springfield Elementary School, based on the targeted 20-1 student-teacher ratio, Fort Mill school board members learned during Monday's meeting.

Springfield Principal Dennis Triplett said the 20-1 ratio might even be a stretch because there are two additional adult assistants in kindergarten classes.

The school itself is beyond capacity with 943 students, more than the enrollment at any other Fort Mill elementary school. Springfield is using mobile units to handle the overflow.

"Whatever we are going to do needs to be made public by the first of the year," Superintendent Keith Callicutt said regarding plans for handling Springfield's crowding during the 2008-2009 school year.

Two Fort Mill elementary schools already are in an enrollment freeze: Orchard Park with 848 students and Gold Hill with 821 students. Most of the overflow students from those schools are assigned to Riverview Elementary, which has 821 children. Fort Mill Elementary has the lowest elementary school enrollment with 760 students.

An additional 32 students arrived at Fort Mill schools in the past 28 days. Of those, 14 were at Springfield Elementary. Total district enrollment on Monday was 8,659 students.

Fort Mill, considered the fastest-growing school district in the state, plans to open two new elementary schools in 2009 with part of a $70.3 million installment purchase plan mortgage the board approved in December.

In March, the district will ask voters to approve $87.2 million for two more elementary schools to open in 2010 and another middle school. A second referendum item will ask for $9.95 million more to build an additional gym at each of the high schools and a stadium at Nation Ford High.

Callicutt said the district expects to announce the members of a community referendum committee by the end of October.