Rezoning proposal could lead to hundreds of Midlands students switching schools

If approved by the School Board, the plan would take effect for the 2020-21 school year

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) — Hundreds of Midlands elementary school students might be switching schools in 2020.

Richland County School District Two is considering a rezoning proposal that would move some students from Catawba Trail Elementary to Bookman Road Elementary.

Over the last few years, Bookman Elementary School has had fewer students come through their doors, while new development around Catawba Trail Elementary has their hallways bursting at the seams.

District officials said enrollment at Bookman Elementary School dropped from 694 in 2006 to 417 students in 2018, while the number of students at Catawba Trail Elementary has risen from 444 in 2006 to 664 this year.

“Dr. [Baron] Davis (Richland Two Superintendent) said at the board meeting Tuesday night that we know that at some point, we’re going to have to do something. We’re probably about two years away from Catawba Trail maxing out,” said Libby Roof, the Chief Communications Officer for Richland Two.

To balance out the student bodies and avoid having to use portable classrooms at Catawba Trail, Richland School District Two is looking into a rezoning proposal that would move students who live in the Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek subdivision up Bookman Road.

The district says 275 elementary school students currently live in the Jacobs Creek subdivision, 204 of which currently go to Catawba Trail.

“Anytime we do rezoning, we want to keep neighborhoods together. We don’t want to draw a line if we can anyway help it, so that’s why we picked up these two neighborhoods. They are very close to both school,” Roof said.

Students have the option of opting out of the switch from Catawba Trail to Bookman Road, provided they have transportation to get them to and from school each day.

The district says current fourth graders at Catawba Trail who live in the subdivisions will be able to stay to complete fifth grade at Catawba Trail. Also, siblings of current fourth graders affected by the rezoning will be able to stay at Catawba Trail for one year before having to switch schools.

One group vocal about this rezoning proposal has been military families.

Nearly 70 currently live in the Jacobs Creek subdivision. 

“It’s hard enough being a military family and moving and making new friends in the middle of a school year. Now I have to force them to go to another new school to make new friends when they are already established here and stable here. Does it suck yes? Do I understand it? Absolutely,” said Jennifer Roe, a mother of two Catawba Trail Elementary students.

Roof said a handful of military families have spoken to the district about their concerns, and the district is open to hearing about their concerns.

“We’re sensitive to that. We have heard from them, but rezoning in a growing district is inevitable,” Roof said.

Richland Two will have a series of public input meetings on the rezoning plan, starting with one Thursday, November 7, at 6:00 p.m. at Bookman Road Elementary School.

The School Board is expected to vote on the rezoning proposal at a board workshop on Tuesday, December 3, at 5:30 p.m. at Jackson Creek Elementary School. 

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