School trustees approved the elementary school and middle school attendance areas on Tuesday night despite some concerns about traffic and future capacity in Fort Mill.

    New elementary attendance areas will take effect in the 2020–2021 school year. Middle school changes will take effect beginning with the 2021–2022 school year.

  Maps detailing the attendance areas can be found on the district’s website with this link: Approved Attendance Areas

    As the district prepares for new schools to open, keeping neighborhoods intact was the first and most important priority in making attendance area changes. Also, district consultants considered residential development activity, utilizing natural boundaries whenever possible, and transportation routes.

   Superintendent Chuck Epps said this was a less contentious redraw than the district had prior to the opening of Catawba Ridge High School. He said some parents and students expressed concerns this time about being moved out of their school area, with a dozen responses just in the last two weeks.

   “These people that provide responses represent one person, not necessarily the whole neighborhood,” Dr. Epps said.

   While trustees approved the administration’s proposed areas unanimously, there were concerns.

Trustees discuss the attendance area changes on Tuesday night. (Photo by Greg Rickabaugh)

Trustee Michele Branning said she was concerned about capacity numbers at certain schools in the future. “I guess we will deal with those as they come,” she said.

    The district only covers 50 square miles, so nobody has far to go.

    “Change is always hard, but I think you did the best you could with what you had,” she told the superintendent.

   Trustee Wayne Bouldin said there were concerns about the need to cross Interstate 77 to get to school just as construction is ramping up on Gold Hill Road.

“That is not an ideal situation,” he said. “I think inevitably, there is nowhere around some people having to cross 77.”

   Trustee Brian Murphy said he appreciated the way the redraw was handled. “I appreciate the process. I think it is the best solution for the unprecedented growth that we have experienced,” he said.

   Trustee Dr. Scott Frattaroli said the public will adjust.

   “We have amazing leadership in all of our schools. A year from now, everything will be in place and everyone will be happy. I am 100 percent sure of it,” he said.

   Trustee Celia McCarter said her children have been forced to switch schools over the years as attendance areas changed. In this upcoming change, she has one child that will go to a new school and one that will stay at the same. She said the district is similar to a basket of fruit with each school being great and just having “a different flavor.”

    Two new elementary schools will open next fall: Kings Town Elementary School on Masons Bend Drive and River Trail Elementary School on Fort Mill Parkway. In the fall of 2021, Forest Creek Middle School will open on Whites Road.

   While some school attendance areas saw minor changes, Sugar Creek and Tega Cay elementary school areas saw no change.

   In the months ahead, the district will move forward with assigning staff and giving time for the elementary schools to form their PTOs and School Improvement Councils.