An unexpected increase of students in Franklin schools has led to longer bus rides, larger classes and the need to hire more teachers.

When Franklin school officials made projections for the number of students they expected this fall, a demographer said they shouldn’t expect more than a dozen new students. Instead, enrollment is up by more than 100 students, creating challenges with busing and class sizes, Superintendent David Clendening said.

Continued home construction, especially in the Heritage and Simon Farms neighborhoods, along with students transferring from outside the school district are some of the reasons for the increase, he said.

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The number of students in Johnson County schools is up this fall with nearly 400 new students and an increased enrollment in five of the six public school districts across the county. School officials cited recent home construction as being a key contributor for the rising amount of students.

Franklin, Center Grove, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Clark-Pleasant all have more students now than they did last spring — some with a significantly larger increase than anticipated. Edinburgh had a drop in enrollment.

For Franklin, which had expected its enrollment to basically stay the same, the increase was a pleasant surprise, Clendening said. With state money tied to the number of students in the school district, superintendents across the county said they keep a close eye on enrollment since having more students gives them greater flexibility with their budgets.

At Indian Creek schools, a higher than normal jump in students could allow the district to consider higher raises for teachers, superintendent Timothy Edsell said.

But schools have also had to make adjustments to address the higher enrollments.

Classes sizes have been a concern, with the average class size just under 25 students, which is the amount the school district wants to stay below, Clendening said. A second grade teacher was added at Northwood Elementary and more English classes were added at the high school, Clendening said.

The school is also monitoring its busing situation, with more than two dozen routes with rides longer than one hour, Clendening said.

Greenwood schools have had an increase of about 75 students, which is unusual, especially with the school district having little to no new construction, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.

The district’s goal each year is to not lose any students, he said.

“We didn’t have a projection in mind,” he said. “We wanted to be in that mode if we can get an increase of up to 50, we are happy.”

Greenwood hired another four teachers to handle the additional students, and keep class sizes down, DeKoninck said.

Clark-Pleasant schools didn’t hire any additional teachers due to enrollment growth, but did shift some elementary teachers around to schools with an increase in students, Superintendent Patrick Spray said.

For example, Grassy Creek Elementary, which is close to many of the new homes being built on the southeast side of Greenwood, has four more teachers than last year, he said. The average class size for elementary schools is about 23 students.

In Center Grove, about 75 percent of their new students are coming in at the elementary level, a trend that the school district has experienced the past few years. Center Grove is up 90 students from last spring and 140 students from last fall, Superintendent Richard Arkanoff said.

“We do have a lot of new houses and a lot of younger folks are moving with families, it has been trending that way for the last several years,” Arkanoff said.

A new Center Grove elementary school is planned in Bargersville, where a lot of the new homes in the school district are being built. Two elementary schools have also been using portable classrooms, he said. In past years, Center Grove has shifted which elementary schools students will attend if they live in certain neighborhoods, a move intended to lessen the load of students in its most crowded schools and spread students out more evenly across the district.

By the numbers

Johnson County schools are taking count of how many new students they have this year, with most schools seeing an increase from their enrollment last spring.

School district;spring enrollment;fall enrollment

Center Grove;8,180;8,269

Clark-Pleasant;6,447;6,572

Edinburgh;866;819

Franklin;5,070;5,179

Greenwood;3,904;3,980

Indiana Creek;1,798;1,835

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.