Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TOP STORY >> Cabot district sees gain of 200 students

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School District’s first day of school went smoothly as students returned to classes Monday. Enrollment is projected to increase over the next week as more students go back to school.

The school district has 10,260 students enrolled this year, an increase of 200. Last year, 10,068 students were enrolled at the end of the first quarter of the school year.

“There were very few issues the first day of school. Our objective on the first day is to focus on routines with all of our students including how they are going to be dismissed at the end of the day. Bus transportation is always a challenge, but all of our buses were clear of students by 5:25 p.m. on Monday afternoon,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman.

“We typically release the first wave of buses from CHS at 3:25 p.m. each day, but due to it being the first day, the first wave didn’t depart until 3:45 p.m. which causes a ripple effect with every other bus in the district. Overall, it was a great day thanks to our administrators, faculty and staff for doing a good job of preparing for the first day well in advance,” Thurman said.

Thurman said some parents were frustrated with the amount of time it took to pick up their children from school. He said it takes time to teach children the routine for dismissal, but said the district is not going to sacrifice a child’s safety for time. After students learn the routine of the next few days, the wait to pick up their children will lessen. Thurman said there is no need for parents in the afternoon to line up and wait outside the schools an hour early. The district is not going to dismiss school any earlier.

Adjusting start times back five minutes at the middle schools, junior highs and high school seemed to help with traffic.

“We believe that it will make a difference but difficult to know the impact this early in the school year. Many more parents than usual bring students to school for the first few days so there is an increase in traffic around schools. Though traffic on the first day was extremely congested at many of our sites, there was a considerable amount of difference on the second day,” Thurman said.

The first day of school had 9,981 students show up for classes, down 13 students from 9,904 on the first day of school in 2010. However, on the second day of school, Tuesday, enrollment increased 66 students to 9,957 and was up two students from the same day last year.

“We were down on the first day but suspect that the early start of school may have an impact on initial enrollment,” Thurman said.

He said almost every child in kindergarten through fourth grade showed up, but the district is missing a lot of junior high and high school kids. Thurman expects enrollment numbers to increase in the next two weeks. Some parents keep their children out of school until Labor Day.

Thurman said fifth grade has the largest number of students in the district with 838 students. Kindergarten had 705 students in class on the first day of school, down 65 students from 770 students the first school day last year.

The school district has 260 Pre-K students but those students are not included in the district enrollment numbers, as the Pre-K program receives funding from different federal and state programs.

As of Tuesday, there were 3,866 elementary school students. Eastside has 431 students. Central has 321 students. Magness Creek has 375 students. Westside has 404 students. Southside has 482 students. Northside has 387 students. Ward Central has 543 students. Stagecoach has 485 students. Mountain Springs has 438 students.

The two middle schools have 1,618 students. Middle School South has 773 students and Middle School North has 845 students. The two junior high schools have 2,329 students. Junior High South has 1,094 students. Junior High North has 1,235 students. Cabot High School has 1,985 students.

The Academic Center of Excellence, a conversion charter school has 131 students in seventh through 12th grades. The behavioral schools, the Alternative Learning Environment has 19 students in eighth through 12th grades and the Cabot Learning Academy has nine students in first through seventh grades.