SPRINGFIELD — Explosive population growth is reverberating throughout the Effingham County School District, especially its southern portion.
In order to relieve overcrowding at South Effingham Elementary School and plan for potential growth in other areas of the district, the Effingham County Board of Education is reconfiguring its elementary school zones. Seven of eight zones will be impacted according to a preliminary proposal that was revealed during a regularly scheduled Dec. 8 board meeting.
The plan would go into effect next fall.
According to Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Effingham County’s current population is 65,000 (estimate). It was 52,250 in 2010 and is projected to be 76,320 in 2030.
“New houses are going to continue — as we all know — and it has particularly increased on the south end of the county,” Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said.
The district added approximately 700 students between the end of 2020-21 and the start of 2021-22.
“I think this particular (information) has been on our radar for quite some time,” Ford said.
The board approved new districts for elementary schools just two years ago. Growth in South Effingham zone exceeded expectations, however, forcing a return to the drawing board sooner than expected. The school currently has 1,083 students, nearly 100 above its recommended capacity.
The map draft revealed during the Dec. 8 meeting features changes to all but the Guyton Elementary School zone. That could change as the two-month process moves forward.
According to the initial proposal, 524 students currently enrolled at South Effingham would be distributed among Blandford, Marlow and Sand Hill starting next fall. In addition, 68 students from Buckingham and Shellie Helmly Road who are currently designated for Marlow would be shifted to South Effingham.
These moves would allow for additional growth in Park West (208 homes), Creekside (155 homes) and Buckingham (68 homes).
The projected enrollment of each school — if all affected students moved to their new zone — would be as follows:
— South Effingham (627, a reduction from 1,084)
— Blandford (899, an increase from 809)
— Rincon (1,084, an increase from 1,001)
— Sand Hill (962, an increase from 719)
— Marlow (710, a decrease from 816)
— Ebenezer (906, an increase from 818)
— Springfield (722, an increase from 654)
— Guyton (734, unchanged)
The entire proposal and its impact on other schools can be viewed at https://www.effinghamschools.com/ecsd-redistricting?fbclid=IwAR0OgvrCea-cxYHhJ2Hr7A.
With a completed 2022-23 School Choice Form, current students may opt to stay at their current school. For example: a second grader may choose to stay at his/her current school through the end of the fifth grade.
Families affected by redistricting who choose to keep their students at their current school must provide their own transportation.
In addition, siblings who are not yet attending school (K-5) may complete a School Choice Hardship Form for consideration based on available space.
Rising pre-K students must enroll in their zoned school after new lines are established. Pre-K is managed by Bright from the Start through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
The redistricting time line is as follows:
Jan. 5, 2022 — presentation and public comment during a regularly scheduled board meeting, 2 p.m.
Jan. 22, 2022 — presentation and public comment during a regularly scheduled board meeting at South Effingham Elementary School, 6 p.m.
Feb. 2, 2022 — presentation and public comment during a regularly scheduled board meeting, 2 p.m.
Feb. 17, 2022 — recommendation for approval during a regularly scheduled board meeting, 7 p.m.
The school choice process is slated to start Feb. 18, 2022.