An enrollment freeze for newcomers could be in place soon for an elementary school in a fast-growing area on the north side of Lake Murray.
Lexington-Richland 5 officials are considering the unusual step to stop further overcrowding at Lake Murray Elementary in the Ballentine area.
“It’s not what we want, but what’s needed at this time,” Superintendent Stephen Hefner said.
The freeze could be in place as soon as late January and would last at least two years until a new school is built near Chapin, officials said.
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Enrollment at the 19-year-old school built for 750 pupils is slightly more than 1,000 today. Some students are in portable classrooms to handle the overflow. Lake Murray Elementary serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Enrollment is expected to climb further with more new neighborhoods coming, officials said.
The proposed freeze probably won’t reduce overcrowding significantly but will prevent it from becoming worse, Hefner said.
Putting the freeze in placed is up to the School Board. It could be adopted as soon as the Jan. 8 meeting.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s probably something we need to do,” board chairman Robert Ganttsaid. “It’s a temporary Band-Aid.”
The freeze would send new students whose families settle in neighborhoods near the school after Jan. 22 to either Ballentine Elementary or Chapin Elementary indefinitely, officials said.
Both schools have space for extra students, school planner Michael Harris said. Each are about three miles from Lake Murray Elementary.
The ultimate answer is getting started on a new school planned for Amicks Ferry Road near Chapin, Hefner said. The school is tentatively estimated to cost about $25 million.
Board members approved that step but haven’t decided how soon the school would be built amid uncertainty on how to pay for it.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483