Center Grove could be building a new elementary school sooner than expected, with more than 150 additional students enrolling in the school district this year.
The additional students are spread throughout the grade levels, but Center Grove also had their largest kindergarten population ever with 576 five- and six-year-olds at the beginning of the school year.
If that trend continues, school officials will need to decide how to fit more classrooms into their existing schools or build another elementary to accommodate the growth, said Superintendent Richard Arkanoff.
Schools have been counting students to see if as many enrolled this fall as expected, and because the number of students is a critical factor in determining how much money schools receive from the state. Enrollment reports were due to the Indiana Department of Education on Friday, and nearly every school district said they have seen an increase in the number of students attending.
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More than 100 additional students have enrolled in the Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant school districts, according to this fall’s student enrollment numbers. Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson is the only school district that saw a loss from the student population one year ago.
In all, nearly 26,000 children are attending public schools in Johnson County this year.
School officials will have another school enrollment deadline in February, and student population has typically declined by then, Greenwood assistant superintendent Todd Pritchett said.
Fewer than than 50 additional students enrolled at Greenwood and Franklin school districts each this fall, which was more than either school district was expecting, officials said. About 40 more students enrolled in Greenwood school district this fall as compared to the start of the 2014 school year, which Pritchett attributes to the school district’s open enrollment policy. Two years ago, the school district did not allow students to transfer into Greenwood, but last year, officials allowed it, he said. For a school district that is surrounded by other school districts and rural areas, 40 students is a decent gain for Greenwood, Pritchett said.
Franklin had 30 more students enroll this fall than officials had initially anticipated, which means the school district could receive another $150,000 from the state, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer said. But those additional dollars will not be used for a specific purpose — they will help the bottom line of the school district, he said. School enrollment changes multiple times per year, so the school district does not want to designate the money toward a certain fund or bet on having the additional dollars in case more students leave Franklin, Mercer said.
Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school district could lose about $78,000 this year since 14 fewer students enrolled this year than last year, Superintendent Tim Edsell said. But as long as the school enrollment does not continue to lose dozens of students each year, he is not concerned about the loss of funds, Edsell said.
Center Grove officials were expecting 7,767 students to be enrolled by this school year; Instead, 7,921 students are in their classrooms. Additional classrooms were created in two of the elementary schools, including another section of kindergarten at Center Grove Elementary to address the class size.
Based on the student enrollment projections for the next decade, Center Grove officials plan to have a new elementary school built by 2028, Arkanoff said.
But if 150 new students continue to come to Center Grove each year, school officials may have to move up that timeline up by a few years, he said.
“If this becomes the new reality, obviously, we’ll have to build that new elementary school sooner,” Arkanoff said.
Center Grove Elementary is crowded and over-capacity this year, and all the elementary schools on the north side of the school district — North Grove Elementary, Sugar Grove Elementary, Pleasant Grove Elementary — are at capacity, Arkanoff said. Maple Grove Elementary School has room for another 200 students.
Before another elementary school is built, all existing schools need to be at capacity, he said.
Although Clark-Pleasant also had a large jump in enrollment, with 111 more students this year than last September, the school district is not concerned about overcrowding, director of curriculum and instruction Cameron Rains said. The second grade class is their largest this year, but next year, the school district will be reconfiguring their grade levels by getting rid of the intermediate school and replacing it with another elementary school. This will help their growth in grades kindergarten-5 for nearly 10 years before a new expansion or school will need to be built, according to enrollment projections.
Current student enrollment: About 7,921
Difference from last year: An additional 154 students than projected in May
Financial gain: More than $770,000
Current student enrollment: Around 6,405 students
Difference from last year: 111 more students than this same time last year
Financial gain: Around $550,000
Enrollment information not available
Current student enrollment: About 5,084 students
Difference from last year: Down 15 students from last September, but up 30 from the projected enrollment in May
Current student enrollment: About 3,795
Difference from last year: An additional 40 students than projected
Financial gain: About $225,000
Current student enrollment: 1,789 students
Difference from last year: Loss of 14 students
Financial loss: $78,000