Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TOP STORY > >Most schools see higher enrollment

By JOAN MCCOY AND JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writers

On the fifth day of school in Cabot, enrollment was at 9,514, which was up 327 from the fifth day of last school year. And Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent of Cabot School District, says that’s about what he would expect.

Though the numbers fluctuate, enrollment increases an average of 300 a year, he said. In the past four years, it has gone up by 1,209. This time in 2004, enrollment was 8,305. Dalton says he can’t explain why, but some students don’t enroll until after Labor Day. So he will count heads again next Tuesday and he expects the number to go up. But the next count won’t be until the end of the first nine weeks, he said. “Based on my experience, we’re going to be at about 320 (increase),” he said.

After a week of school, enrollment at Pulaski County Special School District is up for the first time in recent history.

The district will take an eight-day count tomorrow to confirm the new enrollment of 18,068—up 199 from last year.

Elementary school enrollment, including pre-kindergarten, was up 339 from last year, while secondary schools lost about 140 students, including 38 from the Jacksonville Girls Middle School and another 23 from the boys school.

Enrollment is also up in Beebe. The books show 3,194, compared to 3,084 last year, an increase of 110. But Dr. Belinda Shook, school superintendent, said that number could go up or down after Labor Day.

“Some people wait to move until Labor Day because it’s a long weekend,” Shook said.

Although enrollment was up by 140 four years ago, when Shook was first hired superintendent, she said said the count has increased by 70 or 80 a year. Enrollment at the Lonoke School District, which has trended slightly up over the past decade, appears set to increase about a dozen students this year, according to John Tackett, Lonoke’s superintendent.

Comparing Monday enrollments to those from the end of the first quarter of school a year ago, Lonoke has increased from 1,827 students to 1,839 this year, Tackett said. The primary school decreased from 425 last year to 409 this year and Lonoke High School declined 11 students to 539, but the elementary school increased from 417 to 426 and the middle School increased 29 students, from 435 to 464. Several factors affected the increase, Tackett said, including the normal ebb and flow of enrollment numbers. Lonoke has become quite firm in not allowing students to transfer out of the district except in certain, very specific circumstances, and also the district has continually quantified its academic problems and implemented programs to address them.

“I’d like to think that what we are doing here makes us attractive to people looking to move to a suburban/rural environment 20 minutes from Little Rock,” he said.

Also, the district’s facilities have continually improved. A new field house will be ready for the first Lonoke Jackrabbit football home game Sept. 19, Tackett said. That will include restrooms and a new concession stand.