District sees enrollment rise at start of new year
Based on the traffic on Highway 17, summer is still in full swing. But vacation is ending for Georgetown County public school students, who return to class on Monday.
More than 7,000 students are already enrolled, but the district is expects that as many as another 1,000 will show up.
That is about 200 more students than the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, according to Superintendent Keith Price.
“GCSD’s current student enrollment is holding steady,” Price said. “Like many districts around the state, we experienced a decline in enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. Our numbers are starting to rebound. Families who left the district due to challenges presented by the pandemic are returning.”
Ashley Cameron, principal at Waccamaw Elementary School, is expecting around 59 more students than last year.
“We are excited about that,” Cameron said. “Enrollment is definitely up for us.”
Several teachers, who were working with virtual students last year in the continuing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, are back together with their students in classrooms.
“We are excited about starting the new school year and putting some of the barriers that we’ve had the last few years behind us,” said Cameron, who is in her sixth year as principal.
County teachers returned to work on Aug. 8. Along with meetings and getting classrooms ready, there were team-building activities.
Teachers at the intermediate school did some volunteer work at Carolina Human Reinvestment’s Community Garden on Petigru Drive.
“It gave our teachers a chance to see what they have to offer and what they’re doing in the community so we can help our kids and support our kids in that area,” principal Travis Klatka said. This is his third full year leading the intermediate school.
Field trips to the community garden will reinforce what students are learning in classrooms.
Waccamaw High teachers traveled to Market Common in Myrtle Beach for a night of bowling.
District enrollment has been on the decline since the 1997-98 school year, when it was 11,380. It was 8,012 for the 2021-22 school year.
Despite a 5 percent increase in the county’s population from 2010 to 2020, district enrollment decreased by more than 1,600 in the same time period.
Klatka expects about 423 students at the intermediate school, which is about the same as last year.
“It’s pretty consistent to where we’ve been the last couple years,” he said. “I think we’ve seen a decline in this area since I’ve been on the Waccamaw Neck the last seven years. We went from having grade-level sizes of 200 to about 150 now.”
Approximately 23 percent of the district’s students attend school on the Waccamaw Neck. Within the next few years, Waccamaw will likely overtake Georgetown as the district’s largest high school.