Student enrollment growth slows in Horry County Schools

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Student enrollment growth for Horry County Schools has slowed down this year. 

Figures from the district say HCS grew by only 131 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. That growth rate of 0.31 percent is down from 2.2 percent in the 2017-18 school year. That’s also significantly down from the five-year average growth of 2.34 percent between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 school years.

Elementary school enrollment actually decreased for the first time in HCS history in the 2018-19 school year, with 299 fewer kindergarten through fifth grade students. Middle school enrollment went up by 402 students and high school enrollment went up by just 28 students.

Only four attendance areas actually saw growth:

  1. Carolina Forest (298 students)
  2. St. James (53 students)
  3. Socastee (37 students)
  4. North Myrtle Beach (25 students)

Enrollment decreased in the other five attendance areas:

  1. Aynor (93 students)
  2. Myrtle Beach (87 students)
  3. Conway (74 students)
  4. Loris (16 students)
  5. Green Sea Floyds (13 students)

Enrollment in high schools is expected to keep rising over the next several years, as kids grow up families who moved to Horry County more than a decade ago.

“We’re not seeing as many young families with small children moving here. They’re still moving here, just not at the rate they were during our peak in ’07, ’08,” said HCS planning coordinator Joe Burch.

HCS says birth rates have plateaued in the county. The birth rate was 3,428 in 2006-07. The average birth rate has declined slightly to about 3,100 births over the last 11 years.

This forecast comes after HCS board members narrowed down the list of projects needed to match growth. The board’s rankings had modular classrooms as the top priority for growth, followed by additions or renovations to St. James and Myrtle Beach high schools.

K-12 enrollment is forecasted to slowly rise by less than one percent per year, peaking at an estimated 44,140 students in the 2023-24 school year. Enrollment is then estimated to decline by about one percent per year.

HCS enrollment is forecasted to increase by 397 students next school year.

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