Fort Mill’s elementary schools named the best in South Carolina

FORT MILL, S.C. — A new study ranked the best elementary schools in South Carolina, and the Fort Mill School District can safely claim it’s the best in the state for youngsters.

Seven of the top 10 public elementary schools in South Carolina all stand in Fort Mill, with Gold Hill Elementary School taking the top spot overall. But the rising notoriety might also explain why the school district had to freeze enrollment at Gold Hill just a few months ago.

Channel 9′s Tina Terry spoke to district leaders who said that the freeze had to do with overcrowding at that school and others, but the new study may prove why so many people want to live in Fort Mill.

“I think when you get to work with great people, success will follow,” said Josh Burris, the principal at Gold Hill Elementary School.

Burris is giving credit to the teachers and staffers at the elementary school. He says they’re the reason the school took the number one spot on the new list, which was published by Niche.

Here are the Fort Mill schools that made the top-10 list:

  • 1. Gold Hill Elementary
  • 3. Tega Cay Elementary
  • 4. Springfield Elementary
  • 5. Riverview Elementary School
  • 6. Doby’s Bridge Elementary
  • 7. Orchard Park Elementary
  • 9. Pleasant Knoll Elementary

Niche says it considered criteria like math and reading scores, surveys from students and parents about teachers, and diversity.

“We’re a diverse school. We have 23 languages represented among all our students and families,” said Burris. “We have students who look different and come from all different places and have different experiences.”

Burris says despite their differences, kids at Gold Hill Elementary function as a family and thrive together. Terry spoke with one parent who agreed.

“He’s thriving, he’s very happy here -- I enjoy the diversity,” the parent said.

While it’s a win for Fort Mill Schools, the accolades come as the district tries desperately to manage growth and overcrowding. Since the 2002-2003 school year, the Fort Mill School District has grown from roughly 6,000 students to nearly 18,000.

“Just 10-15 years ago, a lot of those schools didn’t even exist,” said Joe Burke with the Fort Mill School District. “So to have that many on the list, in the area of growth that we have and the rapid growth that we face, is really impressive.”

Burke acknowledged that the wins will likely lead to even more growth that the district will have to juggle.

“That’s the flip side of being on a list like this. We know a lot of people look at this, and that’s how they decide where they want to live,” Burke said.

Niche also looked at the best public elementary schools in North Carolina, but just two schools in our area made the top-ten list: Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy landed at number two and Lake Norman Charter in Huntersville ranked number seven. You can see the full list of North Carolina schools at this link.

(WATCH: Nonprofit in Fort Mill surprises Monroe family with free wheelchair van)