Fort Mill schools are expected to juggle 1,000 more students this year as the massive growth has led them to hire over 200 new staff and continue freezes at some elementary and middle schools.
School trustees learned on Tuesday night that 923 extra students have already been added, but that number climbs every day as teachers prepare their classrooms for opening day Monday. The district is literally “limping along,” as administrators await the opening of two badly-needed elementary schools in 2020 and a new middle school in 2021, said Marty McGinn, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Human Resources.
Here’s what the impact of Fort Mill’s explosion in population means for this school year:
• Hundreds of new students, with estimates of nearly 8,000 elementary students and over 4,000 middle school and 4,000 high school students.
• A “deep freeze” at some over-capacity schools with shuttles taking hundreds of students across town to locations with available room. “We’re certainly not going to put it over what we want the class size to be, if we can help it,” McGinn told trustees.
• 218 new employees this school year, including 191 new teachers.
“Exciting times. Nervous times,” McGinn said.
In other news from Tuesday’s school board meeting:
• Impact fee collection has topped $14 million, according to Leanne Lordo, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations. However, the results of an upcoming Dec. 9 non-jury trial will determine whether the district will be able to use it. The fees were generated through 886 units, including 604 single-family units. Lordo said the district is ready for the December hearing. “We are very much looking forward to our case being heard,” she said.
• The school board approved three overnight field trips for the upcoming school year, including 25 Fort Mill High students going on a Disney cruise in October and 150 eighth graders from Gold Hill Middle School going to Washington, D.C. in the spring.
• Trustees approved a bid of $40.2 million from Leitner Construction for the building of Forest Creek Middle School. Work starts immediately on Wednesday.
• Bus driver Frances Cook was recognized for being named as South Carolina Bus Driver of the Year while Jeff Marr was honored for being named South Carolina Bus Mechanic of the Year.
• School board members were recognized for advancing in their leadership training through the South Carolina School Boards Association Boardsmanship Institute.