Enrollment Freeze proposed for Lake Murray Elementary School to address overcrowding

Lake Murray Elementary School.- District 5 photo.

Officials with Lexington-Richland School District Five recently presented details of a plan to address increasing enrollment at Lake Murray Elementary School.

The proposed “Enrollment Freeze” would impact “only students and families who will be moving into the Lake Murray Elementary School attendance zone after Jan. 22, 2018,” Chief Planning and Administrative Officer Dr. Michael Harris said during a Dec. 11 School Board meeting. All new students and families will be administratively reassigned to either Ballentine Elementary or Chapin Elementary, where there is available space and capacity for additional students.

The plan was introduced Dec. 11 as a discussion item for the school board. It will be brought forward at the board’s Jan. 8 meeting for further consideration.

“The number of students in the Lake Murray attendance area continues to increase, despite several actions the district has taken to control enrollment at the school,” Harris said. “As a school district, we vetted several options and determined that the most viable solution, in the immediate, is an enrollment freeze.”

District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner emphasized that the freeze was a temporary solution aimed at keeping enrollment numbers steady.

“This likely won’t decrease enrollment at Lake Murray, just prevent it from growing further,” Hefner said. “We’ve said all along that the permanent solution…the best solution is an additional school in the Chapin cluster, and we are working on finding funds to do that.”

Enrollment at Lake Murray Elementary School has spiked over the past several years, from 449 students in 2001 to 1012 students in 2017, according to 135th Day enrollment numbers. To address overcrowding, the district has closed the school to CHOICE, placed special education self-contained programs on campuses with greater availability of space, increased magnet offerings and extended options (with transportation) to Ballentine Elementary and Chapin Elementary. In 2015, District Five reassigned fifth graders to Chapin Intermediate School, which now serves fifth and sixth graders. Currently, Lake Murray Elementary only serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

“We do not believe rezoning is good for families because schools are learning communities and not warehouses,” Hefner said. “Families form ties with their schools, and forcing them to move to another school, simply to address enrollment issues, breaks a covenant that the district has made with families. The enrollment freeze is a good temporary solution. It’s not what we want but what’s needed at this time.”

More information on District Five’s Enrollment Freeze proposal for Lake Murray Elementary School can be found online at www.lexrich5.org/LMESEnrollmentFreeze.

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