The Columbia County School System reached a milestone Aug. 10, topping 20,000 in enrollment.
Schools Superintendent Tommy Price announced the record-setting six-day enrollment of 20,118 at the school board's most recent meeting, saying the figure is still likely to grow.
"We kind of had forecast it," Price said in a phone interview Thursday. "Based on recent growth cycles, it looked like a certainty and it's proven out now."
The six-day total was 84 students more than the figure school officials had predicted, according to a system enrollment tally.
In 2003, officials underestimated the six-day total by 290 students and ended up with 19,575 students in county schools.
Although school officials are getting better at predicting growth, Price worries about where the growth is occurring.
"We're seeing, in the current enrollment, that the growth occurring in older, established neighborhoods is minimal," he said. "It's more of these multi-unit dwellings that are obviously accounting for increased enrollment."
Price said new apartment complexes on Columbia, Washington and Belair roads have helped cramp hallways in certain schools.
"Obviously, this is much more affordable housing for more and more people to move the short distance across (the Richmond County) line and take advantage of the school system," he said.
All of the county's high schools grew in number of students, with Evans High School regaining its lead as the enrollment leader after six days with 1,773 students. In the first week of school, Greenbrier High School held the top spot but dropped to second place in the second week with 1,758 students. However, Greenbrier High grew by 94 students when compared to 2003. Evans grew by 74 students.
"That is putting an extraordinary burden on us to stay ahead of the number of people entering the system," Price said.
The superintendent plans to address the issue of increasing population rates and school overcrowding with county commissioners in a Sept. 22 meeting.
"It does put a burden on us to stay ahead of the curve, and we're doing the best we can," he said.
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