New enrollment numbers surfacing while schools seek answers for overcrowding

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

    SPARTA n The assistant schools superintendent said split sessions are not an option to address the district's overcrowded classrooms and increasing student population, despite enrollment figures released this week. "You really can't do split sessions in a high school," said Kathleen Monks, who directs the district's school curriculum. "I don't have the answer, but that is not the way to go." After head counts made during the first two weeks of school, officials reported an additional 52 high school students than the 1,180 that had been projected for the current year. For safety reasons, Monks said the district has discussed the possibility of staggering the times that high school seniors arrive and leave school each day to accommodate the overcrowded classrooms. Monks said oversized class averages included 33 students in H calculus, 31.5 in U.S. history I, 28.5 in H English 11, 26.16 in CP chemistry lab, and 26.4 in CP geometry. Schools superintendent Thomas Morton said enrollment at the high school for the coming school year was projected to be up 100 students from last year. But he had expected that number to increase after late registrations in August. In addition, Morton said those projected numbers represented 55-65 more students than reported by professional demographers hired by the school board last year. He said if the trend continues, the high school could be above capacity by at least 300 students in 2008-2009. However, enrollments for K-4, grades 5, and 6-8 were actually down from projected numbers for this year, Monks reported. K-4 enrollments dropped 51 students from those projected, 24 in grades 5, and 22 in grades 6-8. During the summer, Morton had put forth a plan that would have created split sessions for grades six through nine to open up more classroom space district-wide, but the school board's curriculum committee rejected the proposal. School officials were hoping to pass a referendum in December that would allow them to construct the new high school at upwards of $93 million, but the vote has been all but abandoned for now. Morton said that even if the referendum would have succeeded, some plan to address the growing student population needs to be in place by the 2007-2008 school year. By the numbers n The high school reports 52 more new students than the 100 that had been projected by the district. n K-4 enrollment is 51 students below projected numbers. There are also 24 fewer students than predicted in grade 5, and 22 fewer than expected in grades 6-8.