RINCON — Larger-than-expected enrollment growth is forcing the Effingham County Board of Education to reconfigure its elementary school zones sooner than expected.
The board will head back to the drawing board early next year in order to have new lines set for the 2022-23 school year.
“We don’t have any choice,” Chairman Lamar Allen said.
South Effingham Elementary School has reached its capacity of 990 students just one year after opening 12 new classrooms.
“I think there are something like 600 houses approved now to be built in the county,” Allen said. “Come on, man! Where are we going to put these kids?”
The board is actively looking to buy land in the southern part of the county for another elementary school. It is also planning to add classrooms at Blandford and Sand Hill elementary schools.
“We need (the) Sand Hill (expansion) to be ready for next year in order to move kids around,” Allen said. “I feel for people who will be affected but there is nothing we can do about it. We’ve got to have room in our schools.”
Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said the district has added nearly 600 students since the end of the last school year. It had about 13,500 when 2021-22 school year started.
“We didn’t think we were going to have the growth that we’ve had over the past year,” he said. “Typically, we grow a couple hundred kids a year.”
Ford said Blandford is set to add 16 classrooms. Sand Hill will get 12-16 depending on a site assessment by state officials.
In addition, Ebenezer Elementary School just opened 14 new classrooms.
Ford expressed confidence that students who move to another school as a result of rezoning will still be served well.
“All of our schools are very good and we have confidence in them,” he said. “And if you recall, the last time when we went through redistricting (in 2019), there was kind of an additional step that was put in place for school choice for students that were being redistricted but wanted to remain at their home school.”