More than 300 additional students are attending public schools in Johnson County this fall compared to last school year.
Enrollment is up this year at Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Greenwood and Indian Creek schools, with Edinburgh being the only school district to see its enrollment drop from last school year. Schools are required to take a count of all the students they have enrolled as of Sept. 15. The data is submitted to the state and is used to determined how much state funding schools receive, which can only be used for certain expenses, such as teacher salaries and benefits.
For every student enrolled, public schools in Indiana will receive an average of $6,200, according to the Indiana Department of Education. At the start of each school year, schools with an enrollment increase will often need to hire additional teachers and staff. This count determines whether the schools get the money to pay for those expenses.
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Part of the reason for the increase in enrollment is the county’s growing population, school officials said. Johnson County’s population increased 9 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to Census data.
The official enrollment in public schools across Johnson County this year is 26,584.
But at Greenwood schools, where much of the land inside the school district is already developed, officials don’t anticipate large increases in the enrollment each year, and instead plan for the number of students to stay fairly steady, superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.
That hasn’t been the case the past two years, and Greenwood schools has gained more than 200 students. Enrollment went up by 60 in 2016, and by 150 in 2017, largely because of the number of students who transferred from another school district to attend Greenwood schools, DeKoninck said.
Of the new students enrolled this fall, 60 live in the Greenwood school district while the remainder transferred from Clark-Pleasant, Center Grove and Perry Township schools, he said. Greenwood now has 550 transfer students, a number that is up from 250 in 2013, DeKoninck said.
While the school doesn’t actively seek transfers, it welcomes the students as a way to boost enrollment and receive a larger share of state funding, he said. Greenwood hired two elementary teachers, one middle school teacher and one high school teacher due to the increase in students this year, DeKoninck said.
One reason families decide transfer is the location of Greenwood schools, DeKoninck said. Because of the district boundaries, some families outside of the school district live closer to Greenwood schools than their own, he said.
Every school district that allows transfer students is required by the state to set a cap on the total amount it can accept. For Greenwood, that means a cap of 325 students per grade level from sixth to 12th grade, as well as limits on the sizes of its elementary classes. This year, Greenwood hit the cap on the number of eighth grade transfers, as well as for about a dozen elementary classes. Greenwood has room for the transfer students, but may at some point reduce the number that it allows if enrollment continues to grow, DeKoninck said.
Enrollment at Clark-Pleasant is up by about 100 students, which is slightly higher than what the district was anticipating, assistant superintendent Cameron Rains said.
“We like to see a little bit of growth that is still in the range of a manageable amount,” he said.
Clark-Pleasant schools didn’t hire any additional teachers due to enrollment growth, but did move some elementary teachers 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.
Clark-Pleasant is looking at adding another elementary school, which would make room for students from families moving to the east side of the county.
Center Grove will be up about 75 students from last year, which is in line with the district’s projections to be adding up to 100 students each year, superintendent Richard Arkanoff said.
The district added seven teachers and a part-time teacher’s assistant to handle the increase of students. Class sizes, which range from 23 for kindergarten to as much as 32 for upper-level classes, are being monitored and are being addressed on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Two elementary schools are using portable classrooms this year due to the lack of space, which will continue until a new elementary school opens in 2019, Arkanoff said. Center Grove is building a new 800-student elementary school off Morgantown Road, making room for the population growth in the southern portion of White River Township.
Should enrollment increases continue with the current trend, Center Grove could even consider adding another elementary school around 2025, Arkanoff said.
In Franklin, enrollment is up as well, with another 40 students attending, superintendent David Clendening said.
A demographer had projected enrollment to stay remain steady from 2016, so the increase came as a surprise. Clendening attributed the increase to new homes being constructed in Franklin, particularly in the Heritage and Simon Farms neighborhoods. A second grade teacher was added at Northwood Elementary and more English classes were added at the high school, Clendening said.
At Indian Creek schools, enrollment is up by 40 students, which has the district keeping a close eye on its class sizes, superintendent Timothy Edsell said. At the elementary level, class sizes are nearing an average of about 26 students. Whether more teachers need to be hired in future years hasn’t been determined yet, he said.
Public schools in Johnson County took count of how many students they had enrolled on Friday, a number that will be used to help determine how much state funding they receive.
School district;2016 enrollment;2017 enrollment
Indiana Creek; 1,795;1,835