Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill Schools plan for another surge of students

As school officials prepare for a new academic year, they’re also bracing for another surge in students.

Impact fees, currently a $2,500 charge on new, occupied residences put toward school construction, are on the rise. In June the county collected $122,500 in fees for the Fort Mill School District. In July, the figure was $150,000.

“We’re trending ahead of what we did in June and July of 2012,” said superintendent Chuck Epps.

The past six months each show upward trends compared to last year. Eight of the past 12 months do, too. More impact fee money means more homes, and more homes mean more students.

Epps said the type of “creeping activity” in residential growth now is similar to what came just before the pre-recession boom that topped out at 13 percent year-to-year.

“We’re truly seeing the beginning of another wave,” he said.

Board members at their Aug. 6 meeting noted several large residential projects within district borders. There’s the build-out at Massey and the recently annexed Waterside along the Catawba, both with 1,000 or more homes planned. There are several large projects in the Tega Cay area. There’s interest in the Doby’s Bridge Road area with the Fort Mill Southern Bypass coming.

“It’s obvious that other people are expecting the growth, too,” said board member Wayne Bouldin.

Epps said those projects aren’t the only ones going into district planning.

“We know of some that have not even been announced,” he said. “At least that helps us in planning.”

Through the first half of the year, district-wide revenue is up and expenses are down for the general fund. Through the end of June revenue is up $1.3 million compared to the first six months of last year’s budget, to $76.8 million. Property tax revenue dropped almost $2 million, but state, federal and local revenue all increased as did interest on investments.

General fund expenses are down $2.59 million compared to the through-June total a year ago, to $72 million.