The population boom in Columbia County public schools has continued with the opening of a new year.
As of Friday, the third day of school, enrollment in the county's 27 schools was 20,439. That's nearly 300 more students compared with a year ago. Still, that number is 229 fewer students than school officials projected for the new school year.
"We don't quite have today's tallies yet, but I'm sure we picked up over 100, maybe close to 150 today," Columbia County school Superintendent Tommy Price said Monday. "It looks like to me we'll be within 100 of the projection when we get the final count today."
Greenbrier High School leads the student population pack with a Friday total of 1,872. Evans High was close behind with 1,821 students enrolled.
Riverside Middle School is the county's largest middle school. It welcomed 978 students on Friday, which is 105 more pupils than second-ranking Evans Middle School.
Stevens Creek Elementary School is now the county's largest elementary school, with 818 pupils. The county's newest elementary school, River Ridge, opened with an enrollment of 609, which is 91 more pupils than projected.
"I've been surprised at that," Price said. "Part of that, I think, is we didn't have a good count on the addresses, and I know we discovered one little pocket that we had in the wrong zone. It wasn't a lot of students - about 15 or 20 students - but there's a lot of growth in that zone."
The school board might have to consider building a new elementary school in Evans or add on to the River Ridge campus to accommodate the continued growth, Price said.
Before that, school officials intend to build a new middle school, which could have far-reaching implications.
"It's going to be some massive rezoning to relieve Riverside Middle and some other schools as well, like Lakeside Middle and Evans Middle," Price said. "I think in that rezoning, every middle school on the north side of (Interstate 20) will have to be looked at."
Price called the growing enrollment a growing problem.
"There's a lot of construction going on," he said. "We're at that point where a good bit of commercial development has been attracted to the area, which brings more residential development. I think our biggest challenge is going to be trying to keep up with the growth."
Cole and Carson Quarles (back, from left) and Breana Darnell (front, from left), Natia Gillis and Brandi Tiedeman are ready for their first day of school at Lewiston Elementary.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.