Some Richland 2 students may attend a different elementary school next year

Growing up, Sha’Nay Parker said she attended 15 different elementary schools.

Now that she’s married with four kids of her own, she wants her children to have more stability than she had. That hasn’t always been easy because the Parkers used to be a military family that moved frequently.

Once her husband retired from the military, they chose the Forest Creek neighborhood in northeast Richland County to settle down.

“When we were choosing places to go we chose Richland 2 because of the great things we heard about the school district,” Parker told the Richland 2 school board at a Tuesday meeting.

Three of Parker’s four children attend Catawba Trail Elementary school, but if Richland 2 goes through with rezoning her neighborhood, they would have to switch to Bookman Road Elementary next year.

“This is not what we promised our kids,” Parker said.

Richland 2 school district is considering rezoning the Jacobs Creek and Forest Creek subdivisions from Catawba Trail Elementary to Bookman Road Elementary.

The rezoning would be effective for the 2020-2021 school year and would affect roughly 167 students, according to board documents.

The district is considering rezoning the two neighborhoods because enrollment at Catawba Trail is nearing the school’s capacity and is expected to continue growing. At Bookman Road, enrollment is down and is not projected to increase, board documents show.

Since 2006, enrollment at Bookman Elementary has decreased 36 percent while enrollment at Catawba Trail has increased 50 percent, according to board documents.

The enrollment trends at the two schools makes rezoning “inevitable,” Richland 2 Superintendent Baron Davis said at a Tuesday meeting. To help with the rezoning, the district has assembled a rezoning committee made up of district employees. That committee will soon include members of the neighborhoods affected by rezoning.

Fourth-graders who live in Jacobs Creek or Forest Creek will be allowed to spend their fifth-grade year at Catawba Trail next year, district spokesman Libby Roof said.

“We try to avoid making a kid move to one school and then turn around and move to another the next year,” Roof said.

Bookman Road is rated “Average” with a score of 46, according to the S.C. Department of Education’s school report card. Catawba Trail is rated “Good” with an score of 57, according to its report card.

Richland 2 will hold a public meeting to hear from parents and members of the community on Nov. 7 at Bookman Road Elementary at 6 p.m.

The board could decide on the re-zoning as soon as the Nov. 12 board meeting.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the grades of students who would be allowed to stay at Catawba Trail if rezoning is approved.

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Lucas Daprile has been covering the University of South Carolina and higher education since March 2018. Before working for The State, he graduated from Ohio University and worked as an investigative reporter at TCPalm in Stuart, FL. There, where he won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his political and environmental coverage.