Enrollment is up across the board in Midlands classrooms this fall.
Area schools gained slightly more than 1,650 students in the kindergarten through 12th grades during the past year, as overall enrollment in public schools in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties rose to almost 114,900, officials said.
The increases range from seven in Lexington 4 to 449 in Richland 2, a departure from recent ups and downs among the eight districts.
About half the enrollment increase again is concentrated in the steadily growing suburban districts of Richland 2 and Lexington 1, homes for some of the top-rated schools in South Carolina and the two largest districts in the area.
The influx has Lexington 1 officials already exploring additional schools, after the final facility authorized by voters in a 2008 referendum opened this fall.
Lexington 2 added to the overall rise in area enrollment with its larger-than-normal increase of nearly 300 students.
The spurt appears to stem partly from new neighborhoods designed for families that are being built in Cayce, Springdale and West Columbia, spokeswoman Kay Joseph said.
Lexington 2 officials are starting work on opening two new elementary schools in fall 2017 and renovating others to add more space.
Demand for teachers – especially in mathematics, science, foreign languages and for students with disabilities – remains steady, educators say.
But would-be teachers could explore developing expertise in early childhood education as well.
There’s a new focus on improving such instruction for 4-year-olds to enable a smoother transition into the demands of traditional school work, said Kathy Maness, executive director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association.