Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

August 19, 2011

School enrollment up in Barren County

GLASGOW — Populations of students enrolled in several area school districts are growing.

Three out of five local school systems, Barren, Caverna and Glasgow, are showing greater numbers of children attending their schools this year compared to the beginning of school last year.

The biggest surprise in local districts was the large jump in students enrolling in Glasgow schools. Each school, with the exception of South Green Elementary, showed increases in student numbers. Enrollment increased by more than 100 students, 1,938 up from 1,831 last year. The largest enrollment increase came at the middle school, where 88 additional students will be attending this year bringing the number of children at the school to just under 500.

Highland has 34 additional students bringing their enrollment to 507 and the high school is up 12 for a total of 583. South Green has 23 fewer children attending than last year with 350 total students.

SGE Principal Chad Muhlenkamp and superintendent Sean Howard discussed reasons for the possible drop at the elementary school during a recent school board meeting. Muhlenkamp cited the lack of visibility of the school on the south side of town, which sits off the road and lacks proper signage.

Howard added that because the rest of the district’s schools are clustered together on the northeast side of the city, it is more convenient for parents with more than one child to take them all to those schools rather than commuting across town.

The growth at Red Cross and North Jackson may be another factor affecting South Green’s enrollment number.

Howard said the refocus toward continuity of the district’s administrators at all levels and the new schools, Glasgow High School and Celtic Academy, opening in the district this year and next year, have had a positive impact on enrollment.

“I think the community is excited about what’s going on in Glasgow schools and they’re happy with the direction we’re headed. They want their children involved in Glasgow schools. There will be new stability in leadership,” he said.

Howard is beginning his second year as superintendent and Muhlenkamp is starting his second year as principal at South Green. Keith Hale, Scott Jones and Sharon Flowers are new principals at Glasgow High School, Glasgow Middle School and Highland Elementary, respectively.

“I attribute (the increase in enrollment) to an excitement about Glasgow again — all four schools. We have four principals who are determined, committed to work together to get Glasgow back to being synonymous with a tradition of excellence,” Jones said.

Howard agreed that he and each building leader are dedicated to improving academic performance at each level.  

“People are excited about what’s going on. I think a loud message has been sent (with these enrollment numbers). We hope it continues,” he said.

Historically for the past decade, Barren County has had average increases of around 75 students per year. This year is no exception with an additional 80 students attending the district, which continues to show steady growth.

The largest gains in enrollment numbers for Barren were in the two elementaries inside Glasgow’s city limits. North Jackson’s population, the newest school in the district, increased by 46 students. Red Cross added 38 more children to its roster.

North Jackson, which opened in 2009, added six additional classrooms this year to accommodate the expected growth.

The student population at Barren County High School actually decreased by 23 students compared to the beginning of school last year. The populations at the middle school and the district’s five other elementaries, Austin Tracy, Eastern, Hiseville, Park City and Temple Hill, remained virtually flat with only slight single-digit increases and decreases in enrollment numbers.

Barren’s Day Treatment Center and BAVEL, the district’s virtual high school, added approximately 30 students to Barren County’s total enrollment of 4,740 this year compared to 4,660 at the start of the semester last year.

“Barren County schools are still enrolling students and already showing an increase from last year’s enrollment,” said director of pupil personnel Cortni Crews.

New principals, Jeff Richey at Hiseville, Lori Downs at BCMS and Amy Allen at Trojan Academy, along with new superintendent Bo Matthews bring new faces and perspectives to the district. Matthews said recently that he expects the growth pattern in the district to remain on track.

Caverna Independent Schools has shown a modest gain in student enrollment compared to last year. The district is up 13 children with a total of 747 students this year against 734 at the beginning of school last year. The elementary had the biggest gain with 18 students. The middle school added four. The high school is down nine students compared to last year.

“Most of our gain is at the elementary,” said superintendent Sam Dick.

Caverna has a large transient population and that affects their numbers with approximately 100 students withdrawing and enrolling throughout the school year.

“It’s challenging instructionally and financially,” Dick said.

Metcalfe County Schools lost approximately 30 students this year compared to enrollment numbers in the fall of 2010. District enrollment decreased from 1,580 to 1,551 students with the biggest loss, 28, coming at Edmonton Elementary. The number of middle and high school students was also fewer, down by 11 and 18 children, respectively. North Metcalfe increased enrollment by 15, Summer Shade by two and the sixth-grade center by 13. Academy High remained steady at around 30 students.

The Monroe County School District had the largest drop in enrollment of the five districts surveyed. The school system has 121 fewer students this year compared to last year, decreasing from 1,937 to 1,816.

“We’re down significantly,” said Mike Gee, director of pupil personnel for Monroe County.

Gee said the district has maintained student numbers for the last two or three years, but the “bottom dropped out” this year.

“I’ve been checking on individual students – where they’ve gone – and it’s a mixture of reasons. It’s not just the economy. There’s no pattern,” he said.

Some students' framilies have undergone legal or marital problems. Others have moved out-of-county or even out-of-state.

“They moved as far away as Delaware and New Mexico,” Gee said.

Enrollment numbers in Monroe County were down at all three elementaries and the high school, ranging between 26 to 47 students each. The middle school was the only school in the district that showed an increase – 15 students above last year.

Superintendent Lewis Carter attributed the change to a shift in student population demographics and also to change-of-life circumstances.

“Approximately 45 percent of the decline in enrollment can be explained by a large graduating class as compared to the lowest entering kindergarten class we have had in several years. The other 55 percent left our district for a variety of reasons including economic and family issues,” Carter said.

Enrollment numbers do not include preschool students who will begin classes next week in most districts.

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