Two middle schools and one high school in the Cherokee County School District are operating at over 100% enrollment capacity, even with portable classrooms, according to a report released Thursday.
As of the 20th day of school, Aug.27, Creekview High School’s enrollment was at 105% of the school’s capacity, Creekland Middle School was 107% and Teasley Middle School was 108%, factoring in portables, the school district’s annual Inventory of School Housing report shows.
Without portables, six schools would be operating over capacity: Creekview, Creekland and Teasley, as well as Free Home Elementary School, E.T. Booth Middle School and Woodstock High School.
Free Home Elementary is the smallest school in the district, and one of the oldest in Cherokee County. Its enrollment of 309 would be 124% of the school’s capacity without portables; with eight portables on the campus, Free Home is reporting 77% of capacity.
Still, no schools were reported “critically overcrowded” for the ninth year in a row, even as enrollment surpassed expectations and reached 41,901 by the 20th day. CCSD defines critical overcrowding as over 140% of the school’s capacity.
The fact that no schools had passed the “critical” benchmark despite the growth “reflects long-standing successful management practices and School Board Policies governing student enrollment growth forecasts, school construction project planning and student attendance area decisions,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement.
The school district noted that while portables relieve classrooms, they don’t resolve overcrowding issues in other areas of schools, including media centers, cafeterias, restrooms, hallways, recess and playground space, and at high schools, parking.
CCSD’s efforts to combat overcrowding, through construction, land acquisition, new school buses and technology, are funded through the district’s Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Since 2001, CCSD has issued bonds for projects to address anticipated growth and paid off the bonds with the 1% sales tax, which has been extended three times by voters and will be on the ballot again in November for another five-year period.
Projects voters will be asked to approve on the next proposed Ed-SPLOST include a replacement Cherokee High School and a new Free Home Elementary, classroom additions at Creekland and Creekview and second gyms at Creekview and River Ridge High School.