Parents concerned about overcrowding at Indian Land schools

Parents concerned about overcrowding at Indian Land schools

INDIAN LAND, SC (WBTV) - Parents at one of the fastest growing school districts in the Charlotte area have complaints about overcrowding. The scene at dismissal time outside the cluster of Indian Land schools can look like a maze.

Chris Green has a child at the elementary school level and said buses are swarmed with students too.

"Six-thirty in the morning when my kids get picked up, they're sitting four-deep," Green said.

Indian Land area schools are a part of the Lancaster County School District.

Most of the county's growth is occurring in the panhandle area around the unincorporated community of Indian Land.

Several families with children moved in over the summer.

"Over the summer we picked up several new hundred, several hundred new enrollees between the two elementary schools, middle school, and the high school," said Bryan Vaughn, a transportation director with the school district.

Lancaster County School leaders have already called in some big yellow reinforcements to make sure not every seat is taken.

"We're looking to add a third new bus in the next two weeks, and we've actually added some additional runs during the day," Vaughn said.

Some bus routes have been adjusted to only transport middle school students who had been sharing the bus with some high school students.

"We had some students, particularly high school students that are a little bit larger students we had maybe three to a seat on some buses, which is not optimum and certainly we want to make sure we get that down," Vaughn said.

With so many families moving to the area, many wonder if schools are going to be able to keep up.

Indian Land Middle School has had to install mobile classrooms for students because of so many newly enrolled students and Harrisburg Elementary, built just two years ago, is already filled.

"Harrisburg in its second year open is at capacity. It is around about what it was planned for," said Lancaster County School Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore.

Moore said the school board has approved construction on Indian Land Middle School that will add space for 400 more.

Those expansions could take more than a year.

All Indian Land students will funnel to Indian Land High School, currently only three students under capacity.

New homes continue to pop up in the mean time, concerning neighbors with children who live here.

"It's going to add to it," Green said.

Moore knows parents are concerned.

A spokesperson for the school district said so far there are no plans to bus Indian Land students to other schools.

Any possible long term solution is going to cost money.

"To probably look at the kind of money we're talking about long term, it certainly is possible to look at a bond referendum," Moore said.

A bond referendum could be challenging because people in smaller communities outside of Indian Land may not want to pay additional taxes for schools their children won't attend.

Parents say the district cannot afford to be idle with so much growth. District leaders are trying to come up with a plan that works for everyone.

"We have needs in every part of the county, growth is the challenge in Indian Land," Moore said.

Several residents and parents voiced concerns at a public meeting held by the Indian Land Action Council.

Some have suggested Indian Land form its own school district to tax and keep money locally, but that could require many steps and even changes in the state legislature.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.