Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher said during a recent meeting that when school officials recently looked at enrollment numbers they saw something the district hasn’t seen in 20 years.
In short, not as many new students in the classrooms.
“We are still growing, but not at the same 3 to 4-1/2 percent pace we have in the past,” Brooksher said in an email Tuesday. “To date, we have seen less than 1 percent growth for the 2019-2020 school year.”
Comparing enrollment from the 10th day of school in 2018 to the 10th school day a year later shows “we have only grown approximately 90 students,” he said. “In comparison, from the 10th day of school in 2017-2018 to the 10th day of school 2018-2019, we grew almost 500 students.”
Growing is nothing new in Bryan County. Enrollment in county schools has grown by 7.7 percent since 2010, according to the University of Georgia. The system, which currently has fewer than 10,000 students, had 7,299 students in 2010. That number followed several years of booming growth in the 2000s fueled by the housing market in South Bryan and the system’s reputation for quality schools.
When former Bryan County School Board Chairman Eddie Warren first ran for office in 2001 the system had 5,285 students.
Years of growth prompted a building boom in the system, and when the new South Bryan Elementary is finished in 2020 there will be three new schools built since 2012 within a six-mile radius, and that doesn’t include a new Richmond Hill High School, which is also in the works.
Voters in 2017 passed a $100 million bond to fund new schools. Recently the school board purchased more than 130 acres in North Bryan near the new Bryan County Elementary for a price “not to exceed” $1.129 million. That land will be used for new construction, Brooksher said. And, he expects more growth, just maybe not as much.
“We do anticipate our student enrollment will increase after Labor Day, but not to the point that it matches the growth we’ve experienced in the past,” Brooksher said.