Overcrowding is a big issue in Beaufort County schools. The population in Bluffton has grown so much over the past decade that the student population at Bluffton and H.E. McCracken middle schools has reached maximum capacity.
To relieve overcrowding, district officials switched to a non-traditional structure of having students complete fours years of middle school and three years of high school. Now the district wants to go back to a traditional system of three years in middle school and four years in high school.
Jim Foster with Beaufort County schools says going back to the traditional grade structure system would reduce overcrowding at Bluffton's two middle schools. It would also send around 500 9th graders to Bluffton High, the area's only high school.
Foster says the district is also considering building portable classrooms to accommodate the extra students at Bluffton High.
"The middle schools are out of room, so we have to go back to the traditional setup," says Foster.
But Foster says switching to a traditional set up is only a temporary fix because student population is expected to keep growing.
The board is now looking to parents and the community to find a long term solution to prevent overcrowding.
A community meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Bluffton High auditorium to present information to parents and educators. The district would like to hear their feedback on how to solve the problem of overcrowding.
"We want to develop a community committee to direct the board and make recommendations to the board on how to assign students. How do we fix this, and what about five years from now?" says Foster.
The public is invited to attend.
Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.