Student numbers show growth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

Student enrollment is up in Andalusia City Schools and Opp City Schools, but down in Covington County Schools.

Each year, systems are required to submit 40-day numbers that record average daily membership (ADM), or daily enrollment.

Those numbers, which are gathered based on the first 20 days after Labor Day, are used to determine the level of funding for a system – which includes teacher salaries – for the following fiscal year.

In Andalusia, the system saw an increase of 39 students, while Opp saw a slight increase of five students from last year’s 40-day numbers.

Andalusia Middle School saw the highest growth in its system, increasing to 404 students from 377 last year. Both the high school and the elementary school saw minimal increases.

ACS Superintendent Ted Watson said school administrators were excited about the increase.

“Enrollment rides on the wave of the population,” he said. “We could possibly earn additional units at least at the middle school, but we won’t know until next year.

“We also have a huge sixth grade class,” he said. “There are about 160 of them.”

While in Opp the system experienced an overall increase, Assistant Superintendent Emily Edgar said the high school saw a decrease in students and the elementary school saw an increase.

“It could possibly mean we would lose a (teaching) unit,” she said. “We are very pleased with the increase in enrollment at the elementary school.”

Covington County schools lost 30 students compared to 40-day numbers last year, with the biggest losses at Straughn Middle School and Straughn High School, which are down 34 collectively.

Superintendent Terry Holley said the tough economic times are a main factor, as well as a large graduating class at SHS.

“We have a very transit system,” he said. “Those first 40 days are very important in that they are used for accounting to tie into the budget.”

Pleasant Home School and Straughn Elementary saw increases of more than 20 students each.

Overall, Holley said the school system could potentially be down one teaching unit overall.

“We lost 4.5 units last year with the change in the divisors,” he said. “So of course, we’d love to have those back. But that’s doubtful. We never really know what the budget is going to do.”

Administrators said kindergarten classes could be one of the reasons for the increases, with every school reporting large classes.

AES has 161 kindergartners enrolled; OES has 120 kindergartners; SES has 80 kindergartners; Pleasant Home has 48; and W.S. Harlan has 35.

Watson said at Andalusia, the kindergarten class grew from “obscurity.”

“We watched it get bigger and bigger,” he said. “We strive to keep the kids we have, and when you get a big kindergarten class, it’s just a good problem to have.”