Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TOP STORY >> Doors open for another school year

Leader staff writers

The number of students who attended Cabot schools on Monday is down 68 from the first official count in 2011 and down six from the first official count in 2010.

In the past few years, the district’s size has increased as the Pulaski County Special School District lost students.

But the tables are turned this year as enrollment at the PCSSD is up by almost 600 students from last year with a first-day headcount of 16,984.

It was 16,403 for the first day last year.

This year’s count is also about 353 students more than what the district saw three years ago. It was 16,631 in 2009.

PCSSD didn’t do a first-day count in 2010 because of issues with students taking online classes.

The district’s elementary schools welcomed 9,064 this year and the secondary schools had 7,920.

On Monday, 10,047 students attended classes in Cabot. The official count last year was 10,115 and in 2010, it was 10,053.

But the count this year will almost certainly change.

Dr. Tony Thurman, district superintendent, said Monday that students would continue to enroll for many days.

“We traditionally have kids who wait until after Labor Day to begin school. The numbers will change tomorrow because we were enrolling students throughout the day,” he said.

The state pays all school districts by the head, so if the count doesn’t increase, Cabot will lose money.

The loss of one student is a monetary loss of about $5,800.

The first days of school are always hectic, but Thurman said traffic flowed smoothly thanks to street improvements made by the city and Lonoke county including the widening of roads and additional turn lanes.

He said there were no major problems with the buses.

“Transportation is always a challenge, running over 90 bus routes every morning and afternoon,” he said. “We have the ability to communicate directly with every driver which helps tremendously in locating kids that have gotten on the wrong bus.

“Our drivers were very patient and helped one another with students that may have gotten on the wrong route.

“We have a few routes that are overcrowded and will start making changes (Tuesday) to alleviate those issues,” he said.
But if there were a few glitches, at least the weather cooperated.

“The weather was great,” he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve opened school in mid-August with highs only in the upper 80s. Hopefully, we can keep this trend going.”
Lonoke School District’s enrollment is up, Superintendent Suzanne Bailey said at Monday’s school board meeting. But the count wasn’t available by press time.