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Schools: Enrollment rises again, reversing decline

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Enrollment in Georgetown County public schools has leveled off after years of decline, according to attendance figures collected this week.

About half the district’s $82.7 million operating revenue comes from the state and those funds are based on enrollment.

District enrollment fell below 10,000 in 2009 and continued to decline. Last year, it rose for the first time to 9,574. It’s up by about another 20 students this year.

“It’s promising that the western part of the county picked up some numbers,” Superintendent Randy Dozier said.

The district allocated teachers based on an estimated enrollment of 9,110. The start of school last month showed 150 less students. “We started calling them,” Dozier said. This week, there were three more students than projected. “We tend to grow after Labor Day,” he added.

While the four Waccamaw schools are up a total of 13 students, Waccamaw Elementary is down 46 students from a projected enrollment of 561. The school was down about 50 last week.

“Waccamaw Elementary is kind of curious,” Dozier said. “I think some of them left the state, moved or went to private school. They have a little more competition.”

The drop wasn’t a surprise, said principal Vervatine Reid. The last of five large classes just moved from her third-grade to the fourth-grade at Waccamaw Intermediate. “We saw it coming,” she said.

Fifteen students moved from Waccamaw Elementary to Coastal Montessori Charter School, a district school open to any student in the county. The charter school added a seventh-grade class this year. It is eight students below projections, but Nathalie Hunt, the school director, said that worked out for the best since the space it has at Waccamaw Middle is limited and the charter school’s new facility won’t open until later this year.”

Waccamaw Intermediate is up 31 students from district projections to 544; Waccamaw Middle is up 19 to 405; Waccamaw High is up nine to 873.

The high school was up to 880 last week, principal David Hammel said. “More transferred in than expected, and some transferred out,” he said. “It’s very fluid.”

Although the district can reallocate staff at Waccamaw Elementary based on the current enrollment figures, “I don’t really see the need,” Dozier said. “They’re pretty set.”

Schools in the Georgetown area gained 77 students over what the district projected. Those in the Carvers Bay area were up by one student. In the Andrews area, enrollment was 80 students below the district projection.

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