NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The numbers are high and space is low in New Hanover County Schools.
According to school officials, enrollment came in a lot higher than what was projected for the 2012-2013 school year.
"It is serious for us to try and alleviate it and that's what we are trying to do," said Bill Hance, who is the Assistant Superintendent for Planning and Operations.
Wrightsville Beach Elementary is one of the schools officials are trying to find a solution for at the moment.
According to Hance, Wrightsville Elementary was 105 students over capacity as of Friday.
"We've been able to handle it because it hasn't been so severe," said Hance regarding over-crowding in the schools in recent years.
"We handle it within the structure that we have, but this one caught us by surprise based on the numbers we were over our projection."
Hance said space within the school is being utilized to the maximum extent as classrooms have been set up in the media center and on the stage in the cafeteria.
The school system is currently in negotiations with Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church. The system wants to rent two classrooms from the church for students, but the system has to get zoning approval from the town of Wrightsville Beach and approval from the New Hanover County School Board.
Wrightsville Elementary is not alone on the issue of overcrowding. According to Hance, other elementary schools have a high enrollment of students including Carolina Beach, Anderson, Bellamy, Bradley Creek, College Park and Sunset Park.
Hance said the economy has played a key role on the issue.
"Since 2005 we have not been able to ask for a bond referendum or anything like that for any type of addition or renovations to our facilities," he said.
Hance also said the economy has forced some parents to pull their children from the private school system and place them in public schools.
Eliza Blackwell is the head of the parent-teacher association at Wrightsville Elementary and said she is aware of the situation.
She said over-crowding is nothing new for New Hanover County Schools, specifically Wrightsville Elementary, but said it's at the point where some long-term solutions need to come into play.
Blackwell understands it is hard for the school system to find a better solution because it is located on a barrier island.
"It would be great to say we need trailers," she said. "We needed them yesterday, but you have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops to make that happen."
Blackwell acknowledged the school needs to get approval from agencies like CAMA and FEMA before any major changes can be done to the layout of the school.
Pending the approval from the town of Wrightsville Beach, the school board will then vote at its next meeting on September 18.
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