Principals: student enrollment up

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

AES Principal Patty Taylor helps James Peacock before school starts Monday. | Stephanie Nelson/Star News

With the start of the new school year, area school officials are reporting that student enrollment numbers are up at the elementary school level.

Monday was the first day back to school for those in the Andalusia City and Covington County school systems, while classes resumed in Opp on Friday.

Opp Elementary School principal Brent Kinsaul said his school had a “great beginning” at the new school year.

“Teachers were excited; students were excited,” Kinsaul said. “In fact, we couldn’t have asked for a better first day. It was almost scary. I don’t have a final (student) count, but already I can tell enrollment is up, and we’re pleased to see the increase.”

At Andalusia Elementary School, principal Patty Taylor said school officials enrolled 43 students the first day of school, but said she doesn’t know yet if that will be an increase in overall numbers from year’s enrollment.

“(Monday’s) enrollment is a lot for us,” she said.

Taylor said the first day went smoothly.

“We had a lot of smiling faces,” she said. “The kids were excited and there were even smiles on the teachers’ faces at the end of the day.”

The biggest enrollment increases were seen at Straughn Elementary, where principal Betty Ann Older said approximately 60 new students were enrolled.

“It’s been an incredible day here,” Older said. “We have between 50 to 60 new students, which brings enrollment for K-5 to more than 550. That’s the highest it’s been since we went to being a K-5 school.”

Older said then, when the sixth grade class was included, the school’s highest enrollment number was 625.

“If that was the case now, we’d have beat that today,” she said.

Older attributed an organized start to the school year to high participation in parent/student orientation.

“We hit the ground running,” she said. “It was like we never left last year.”

In the south end of the county, W.S. Harlan principal Brent Zessin said his student population was level.

“We lost some students and gained some students, but we’re right where we were at the end of last year,” he said of the nearly 300-member student body at WSH. “It was exciting to see all the parents and all the students in their new clothes for the first day of school.”

In the north end of the county at Red Level Elementary School, principal Rodney Drish said his school’s enrollment numbers are up as well.

“We’ve been enrolling new students throughout the day,” Drish said. “It’s exciting, and our first day couldn’t have been better.”

Each year, systems are required to submit 40-day enrollment numbers. Those numbers, which are gathered based on the first 20 days of school after Labor Day, are used to determine the level of state funding for a system — which includes teacher salaries.