Leader Blues

Monday, July 31, 2006

TOP STORY>>Growth is predicted for schools in area

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

School districts wont weigh in with student enrollment figures until September but administrators expect numbers to be similar to last years based on past enrollment. The Cabot School District expects about 300 additional students will be attending classes there this year. Superintendent Frank Holman says those figures are based on the average new student enrollment over the past five years.

Cabot had 8,488 students enrolled last year, a growth of 425 more than 2004. We never know until people show up but over the past four years our smallest enrollment was 196 and largest was 425 last year. That averages to 296 new students a year, said Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent for the Cabot School District. Ongoing building projects are underway to accommodate the rapidly expanding student population including the $14 million, 110-room high school scheduled to open its doors Monday, Aug. 21 and a $5 million elementary school planned on the southeast side of the district for next year.
Beebe School District Superintendent Belinda Shook says its hard to predict how many students will enroll before school gets underway. On average, weve had 65 to 95 (new) students each year, Shook said.

Its hard to predict but weve had pretty constant growth with kindergarteners and new families moving in over the summer, Shook said. Last year Beebe had 2,915 students, an increase of 133 students over 2004. In recent months, Beebe received $617,510 in state funding to add six classrooms to the front of the junior high school building. Last year the Lonoke School District added 37 students to the rolls, pushing enrollment figures to 1,855. Lonoke received $484,011 in state funding for the 79,500 sq. ft. middle school and $97,000 to add two classrooms to the front of Lonoke Primary School this year.

Pulaski County Special School District is hoping for better enrollment numbers this fall. Last year the district lost more than 400 students, dropping from 2004s enrollment of 18,380 down to 17,943. Pulaski County Special School District got about $1.6 million earlier this year through state funding. Plans for the money include $1.5 million for construction of a new elementary school for fourth and fifth graders currently served by aging Baker, Lawson and Robinson elementary schools in Little Rock while using $32,556 to repair the roof at Homer Adkins newly formed Pre-Kindergarten Center in Jacksonville.