CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - Schools are back in session in Horry County and more children are filling up desks than last year.
Carolina Forest Elementary had 1,075 students the first day, said Principal Dennis Devorick, which is 70 more students than last year and 45 more students than originally projected for this school year.
"We were projected to be around 1,030, so we're a little bit higher than that right now," he said. "More students are still registering, even today."
The official enrollment numbers for the district are not in yet, but Horry County Schools Board of Education Chairman Joe DeFeo said he thinks the entire school district gained about 1,000 students, enough to populate a new school alone.
DeFeo said that growth is spread out, but it is more concentrated in Carolina Forest, Forestbrook, Socastee and St. James, while the Aynor and Green Sea schools do not see the same population gains.
On the first day of school next year, five new schools should be open, including the upcoming Socastee and Carolina Forest middle schools, the St. James intermediate school and the replacements for the Myrtle Beach Middle School and Socastee Elementary School.
"It will make a lot of things less crowded," DeFeo said. "It will not take care of every single overcrowding issue because we have so much growth in Carolina Forest that River Oaks Elementary is already overcrowded and it was built just a few years back."
Devorick said Carolina Forest Elementary is nearly at the same level it was when River Oaks was built.
"About every seven years, another school is needed in our community," he said.
DeFeo said land is already purchased that could potentially be used for a new Carolina Forest Elementary School within the next five years.
No matter the school's enrollment, Devorick said the focus continues to be on the individual students.
"We don't want people to be a number," he said. "Every kid is important."