While the proposed 1,983-unit development off of Collins Jollie Road in Conway is still in the midst of its approval process with the City of Conway, Horry County Schools officials are thinking about what to do about the possible influx of students that may come from it.
HCS Coordinator of Planning Joe Burch said during their facilities committee meeting Monday that this development brings a situation that doesn’t happen often – changing the attendance area in a space that currently has no students residing in it.
“Before the first house is ever built here, we have the opportunity to move this section of Conway Elementary School attendance zone into Kingston Elementary attendance zone, and allow Kingston to absorb the growth that will occur in this development,” Burch said.
Currently, CES is at 103 percent capacity, while KES is only at 77 percent.
“The move would not affect any currently enrolled students, only future development,” he said.
In the past, attendance line changes involve a lengthy process, at least six to eight months, Burch said. It encompasses advisory board meetings, public input meetings, and various other activities.
The most recent attendance line changes took place in 2016, but in this situation, the area is completely undeveloped, and there are no students currently living in that area, Burch said.
Burch asked the committee if they thought this situation would merit possibly streamlining the process since there were no students involved, and no lots purchased.
Facilities committee chair Neil James asked what would happen if the influx of students caused KES to be closer to full capacity.
“What are we going to do when we overrun Kingston?” James said.
Burch said that there is more space at KES for modular classrooms than there is at CES, plus at CES there are other city regulations in place that prevent modulars from being used except in extremely short-term situations.
District 7 committee member Janet Graham asked why Homewood Elementary was not considered as an alternative, but Burch said that school is already at 97 percent.
Board Vice-Chair John Poston said that getting ahead of the issue would be a good thing.
“I think if the Board of Education is considering changing a zone, it is better done ahead of that development instead of behind. If we allow the development to be approved [first] …, it might not be as well-received.”
Ray Winters, district 3 member, said it would be a big deal in terms of real estate – that school attendance areas are always listed on the MLS home sale listings.
Burch said the approval process for the development via the Planning Commission was deferred until December. Developers have said the area would be developed over a 20-year period.
The committee said they will be setting up a meeting with the Conway advisory committee in the next month to discuss the implications of the possible decision and come to a consensus about when to bring the attendance zone discussion to the vote of the full board.