MAULDIN, S.C. (WSPA)- The Greenville County School Board unanimously passed a new zoning plan Tuesday night ahead of the new Fountain Inn High School opening in 2021. The new school is meant to reduce crowding at other schools in the Golden Strip area as the population grows.
According to the Greenville County Schools director of communications Beth Brotherton, about 750 students who would have been going to Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville are now zoned for Fountain Inn High, while about 200 who would have been zoned for Mauldin High School are now zoned for Fountain Inn High, and about 250 kid originally zoned for Mauldin High will now be zoned for Hillcrest.
Mauldin parent Elizabeth Buckley said she was blindsided by the changes.
“We didn’t even think that, living in Mauldin, we would be rezoned,” Buckley said.
Buckely’s children, who were previously zoned for Mauldin High School, are now zoned for Hillcrest High School. Buckley’s 7th grader would be part of the first class affected by the rezoning.
“She was not happy about it,” Buckley said. “And that was her immediate [reaction], ‘but all of my friends are going to go to Mauldin.'”
Brotherton said the district tried to keep students together who had previously gone to the same schools.
“When we were looking at rezoning and were thinking about which area made the most sense to move from Mauldin to Hillcrest, and you look at a neighborhood where these kids are already going to elementary and middle school together, it made the most sense to keep classmates together, to keep neighborhoods together, and look at that as kind of a steady flow as opposed to pulling from other parts of the county, even the Five Forks area or the Simpsonville area, where these kids weren’t on a steady pattern together,” Brotherton said.
The new Fountain Inn High School is set to open in 2021 with a ninth grade class and add a grade each year over the next three years.
According to Brotherton, parents in the Planter’s’ Row neighborhood in Mauldin have been among the most vocal in coming out against the new zoning plan.
“A couple of the things that we’ve said to them is you know, somebody has to move in these situations,” Brotherton said. “These areas are growing very quickly, and we didn’t take the decision of who was moving lightly.”
Mauldin parent Mark Steenback said he’s also concerned about his kids being zoned for Hillcrest High School rather than Mauldin High. One issue he has is that the quickest way to Hillcrest from his neighborhood is on the freeway.
“And then the response, ‘well you can ride the bus,’ and again we all know how hard it’s been for them to get bus drivers, and right now kids from this neighborhood take 45 minutes on the bus,” Steenback said.
The district utilizes a lottery system families can enter to get their children into open spots at schools for which they’re not zoned.
Families in the following neighborhoods getting rezoned will have priority for Mauldin High School, according to Brotherton.