BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – Schools in Beaufort County are gaining hundreds of students each year, most in Bluffton, but after many short-term attempts to alleviate the problem, the Board of Education must come up with a more long-term solution to accommodate students and families.
“If it’s 300 a year, then in 2 years, that’s an elementary school,” said Jim Foster with the Beaufort County School District.
The issue of impacted schools in the county is nothing new. Last fall, the board tried to get voters to approve building a new school, but it didn’t pass.
“We did have a referendum that did not succeed, to build new schools,” Foster said, “The board will now decide whether to go back to the voters again, or whether to use other options.”
A short-term fix for the 2017 school year moved 100 students from Pritchardville Elementary School to Bluffton Elementary and M.C. Riley.
“But Pritchardville is full again,” Foster said, “That’s a fast, fast growing area of the county and the board is going to have to decide how they’re going to accommodate that growth.”
Options on the table include:
Increasing class sizes
Eliminating pre-kindergarten classes
Mobile teachers –floating from classroom to classroom
Having morning and evening school sessions
Year round school to rotate students
Portable classrooms added to campuses
And the most unpopular– rezoning.
“That is one parents are never in favor of because it’s unsettling for parents to have to move their child from one school to another,” Foster said.
One proposed rezoning plan moves students from Bluffton 25 miles north to Broad River, Robert Smalls and Battery Creek. Another plan doesn’t cross the Broad River Bridge but expands school zones in less impacted areas, with only a 1 mile radius area going to the local school.
“Superintendent Moss is holding town hall meetings across the district,” Foster said, “Part of that is getting feed back from parents.”
Hundreds of parents showed up to the Bluffton town hall. There are still two town halls left.
Battery Creek High School on October 24 @ 6:00 p.m.
Beaufort High School on Nov. 16 @ 6:00 p.m.
There is also a Spanish language town hall at Bluffton Middle School on Nov. 14 @ 6:00 p.m.
The board could begin discussing a plan as early as their work session at the end of October. The district says everything will be public and they welcome any input.