Overcrowding in Bluffton Elementary Schools Could Cause Rezoning

BLUFFTON, Sc. (WSAV) — “We moved into our home shortly before he started kindergarten knowing that it was zoned for Pritchardville,” Snider said.

Buffy Snider’s 4th grade son is in the Advanced  Math, Engineering, and Sciences (AMES) School Choice program at Pritchardville Elementary.

With just one year left in the program, he’s one of more than a hundred students at Pritchardville who may have to leave if the Beaufort County School District proposed rezoning

“We got a letter Thursday night… that came home with the children Friday from school saying that several neighborhoods including ours that there’s a possibility that we will be rezoned to Bluffton Elementary,” she said.

“The Bluffton community continues to grow, it’s explosive growth, particularly in that area around Pritchardville,” said Jim Foster with the Beaufort County School District, “Last year Pritchardville was at capacity this year they’re 50 kids.”

Tuesday night, the district held a town hall meeting to discuss with parents the options that the school board is looking at to alleviate overcrowding, options include: adding mobile classrooms, rezoning kids from Pritchardville to M.C. Riley and Bluffton Elementary, or all to Bluffton Elementary.

Christine Brown, the Principal at Bluffton Elementary says their school is fully equipped to educate more kids.

“We have two buildings so it’s not an issue with sitting down with my staff and making adjustments that’s kind of what we do. We’ve been enrolling students left and right anyways for the last out 3 months ,” she said.

Brown says Bluffton Elementary’s School Choice program introduces gaming and robotics into the classroom focusing on creation, animation and design.

“We actually just won an award from the state department of education for innovative technology,” she said.”

Like Snider, many parents’ main concern is having the choice of keeping their children in the School Choice program they want. The deadline had for School Choice applications had previously been set Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“If we are going to be changed zones — many of us would like the opportunity to opt-in to Pritchardville through the AMES program,” Snider said.

Beaufort County School District Superintendent Jeff Moss addressed this concern at the town hall saying that if the school board does decide to rezone, parents will have a two week period to fill out school choice applications, but more importantly, any child currently in Pritchardville’s AMES program will be allowed to stay there.

Parents then voiced their concern about siblings. Moss said he is for keeping children together, but there was no definitive answer.

The school board could vote on this as early as Tuesday next week.

However, the issue of overcrowding in Bluffton elementary schools is not entirely solved with this vote.

“We have to accommodate 3,000 additional students in this county over the next 10 years, we have to find a way to do that,” said Foster.

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