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Board working to stay ahead of enrollment growth
Effingham County School District

RINCON — The planned addition of a new middle school in Rincon is far from the only step the Effingham County Board of Education has taken to tackle its growing enrollment.

When the 2021-22 school year started Thursday, the Effingham County School District had about 13,500 students.

“As you know, when you get growth, you’ve got to have places to put them,” Ford said while addressing the Rotary Club of Effigham County at The Herald Center on Thursday. “We have done a little bit of forethought and we knew that some of that was taking place so last year we opened up 12 new classrooms at South Effingham Elementary (School). On day one (there), we were almost at capacity.

“We need more space there now.”

On Thursday, Ebenezer Elementary School opened 14 new classrooms.

“The new classrooms and wings are obviously full of teachers and kids," Ford said. "We could have a few vacant classrooms in the other hallways where we occupied the new classrooms versus some of the old ones but — if you look around — there is a subdivision across the street (from the school on Ebenezer Road)  and (growth) in the Ebenezer area — and we feel pretty confident those numbers will continue to grow.”

Twenty-four classrooms are set to be added to Blandfored Elementary School. At least 12 are expected to be ready for the start of the 2022-23 school year.

“We want to get that moving as quickly as possible,” Ford said. “.... We’ve got to get some relief on the south end of the county.”

Ford said Blandfore and the district’s other schools were built with expansion in mind.

The board plans to add its ninth elementary school within the next five years. It is searching for a piece of property on which to build it.

Plans are also in the works to handle growth at the high school level.

“We are working on an addition at Effingham County,” Ford said. “It will include two new wings, a weightroom, an auxilary gym like we have at South Effingham High School and a football lockerroom. That’s going to be a very, very large project.

It’s going to be like building a new school. It’s going to be about an 18-month deal once we break ground.”

Ford expects work on the project to start this year.

Modifications to the existing Effingham County High School building, built in 1989, are also on tap. These include new lighting and restroom upgrades.

When the planned construction and renovations are finished, Effingham County High School’s capacity will be 2,500 students. It currently has about 2,000.