HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - After a long period of continuous growth in Horry County Schools, a new report states enrollment slowed down this year.
New data from the district shows it grew by its smallest amount since 2009, adding only 131 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2018–2019 school year. That equates to a growth rate of 0.31 percent, which is down from 2.2 percent in the previous school year.
Elementary school enrollment decreased for the first time in the district’s history, with 299 fewer kindergarten through fifth grade students this year. Middle schools saw the bulk of the growth with 402 students. Meanwhile, high school enrollment increased by just 28 students.
The report cites a decade of flattening birth rates and kindergarten enrollments as a reason for this.
“We are starting to see earlier our growth in elementary school that they’re starting to grow up, so that growth is going with them. So we’re seeing an increase currently in the middle school level and in another couple of years we’ll see that growth in the high school level as well," said Lisa Bourcier, spokesperson for Horry County Schools.
The report shows growth occurred in only four of the nine attendance areas including Carolina Forest, St. James, Socastee, and North Myrtle Beach. Meanwhile, Aynor, Myrtle Beach, Conway, Loris and Green Sea Floyds saw an overall decrease.
Bourcier said these numbers are important to look at as district leaders plan for hiring additional teachers and building new schools.
“We still have several schools that are at or over capacity still and that’s even with modular classrooms. But those enrollment numbers forecast will continue to be very important as the board starts the capital plan for the next five years where we’re looking at those growth and capacity needs you have still," said Bourcier.
The preliminary 10-year forecast shows Horry County Schools will continue to grow until 2025, when the district is expected to lose about 100 students.