Report: No CCSD Schools Reach ‘Critically Overcrowded’ Levels

Report: No CCSD Schools Reach ‘Critically Overcrowded’ Levels

The 2016-17 Cherokee County Inventory of School Housing shows the impact of returning enrollment growth and indicates several areas where additional classroom space will soon be needed.

Additionally, 2016-17 marks the fourth consecutive year during which none of the School District’s schools are considered “critically overcrowded,” reflecting long-standing successful management practices and School Board policies governing student enrollment growth forecasts and school construction project planning.

The below chart uses this school year’s 20-day enrollment count (Aug. 25, 2016) to measure the percentage of overcrowding. School Board Policy defines “critically overcrowded” as when a school exceeds 140% of its enrollment capacity and meets other criteria, including use of all existing portable classrooms. Pursuant to the School Board’s Critical Overcrowding Policy (FDBD), the impact of actual student enrollment is evaluated annually after the 20th day of classes, which is when attendance traditionally peaks, to determine critically overcrowded schools and what, if any, action is needed.

The effort to eliminate “critical overcrowding” in the School District began in 2001, with an aggressive, multi-tiered Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (Ed SPLOST) plan proposed by a Blue Ribbon Committee of community leaders and approved by the School Board for inclusion on a local ballot referendum.  This plan to “bond” future sales tax revenue, which has been extended twice by voters over the past decade, continues today with new construction and renovations, strategic land purchases, replacement school buses and emerging technologies for students and staff.

Unfortunately, if portable classrooms were not available, 11 schools would be operating at 100% or more of their capacity.  It should be remembered that, while portable classrooms provide relief for classroom instruction, they do not alleviate overcrowding in media centers, cafeterias, restrooms and hallways. The schools are: Free Home ES, Liberty ES, Woodstock ES, Creekland MS, E.T. Booth MS, Mill Creek MS, Woodstock MS, Cherokee HS, Creekview HS, Sequoyah HS and Woodstock HS.  Of those 11 schools, five are operating at more than 120% capacity… a decrease from seven reaching that level last school year: Free Home ES – 126%, Creekland MS – 126%, Woodstock MS – 121%, Cherokee HS – 133% and Sequoyah HS – 137%.

Staff continues to analyze this new data to determine recommendations that may be needed to address overcrowding in preparation for the next school year(s).  Data is compiled and analyzed year-round to monitor not only enrollment growth, but also the local real estate market, development trends, local birth rates and other demographics … in order to best determine when and where new and/or replacement school facilities are needed.

Relief has been provided to Dean Rusk Middle School, which had one of the highest levels of overcrowding in the School District last year.  With its opening this month, the School District gained capacity at that location, and also at its four elementary feeder schools — Hickory Flat ES, Holly Springs ES STEM Academy, Indian Knoll ES and Mountain Road ES — as the sixth-grade students from those facilities now attend Dean Rusk MS in its new Grades 6 – 8 grade configuration.  Additionally, Sequoyah HS will add classroom capacity as it gains the original Dean Rusk MS facility into its footprint later this school year!

Again, it should be noted that all new and replacement school construction and renovations in the School District are funded by Education SPLOST revenue.  Voters will again have the opportunity to authorize the School District to continue its capital outlay plans, as the School Board has called for a renewal of the Ed SPLOST in November.

2016-17 CCISH Chart

The 2016-17 Cherokee County Inventory of School Housing shows the impact of returning enrollment growth and indicates several areas where additional classroom space will soon be needed.