Fort Mill Schools take on more growth than expected

Fort Mill Schools continue to see an uptick in enrollment, even more than first predicted. The latest projections have the district approaching 18,000 by 2020.

“We just moved here last summer,” said Stephanie Sidarweck, a Fort Mill parent.

Sidarweck is one of a growing number who moved to Fort Mill for the school district.

Projections by the Catawba Regional Council of Governments estimates the district will grow by 8-percent this year.

“It’s like adding a school a year,” said Dr. Chuck Epps, Fort Mill Schools Superintendent.

Dr. Epps is tasked with handling the rapid growth. Epps says the district could be approaching a pace only paralleled by that of the early ’90s.

“That’s what resulted in the last bond referendum. We know we need another middle school, that’s where the bubble is right now and we’re opening that in 2017,” said Epps.

Voters approved more than $200 million in bonds that will ultimately, among other items, pay for a new high school, middle school, and land for other schools in the future. Projections do show the district will eventually max out its space.

“Eventually we will fill up, when you look out to around 2030 or so,” said Epps.

With the expansions of both Fort Mill High and Nation Ford High, the district got ahead of growing numbers this year. The district hopes to continue to take growth in stride for new parents.

“We love it. It’s great. Definitely an improvement from where we were,” said Sidarweck.

Dr. Epps said it’s a matter of time before another bond referendum will be presented to taxpayers as the district continues to responsibly expand.

By Dustin Wilson, Staff Reporter with WCNC