School enrollment a moving target

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Superintendents for Brewton City Schools and Escambia County Schools are busy compiling records on the number of students attending classes at area schools for the 2010-2011 school year. But, moving numbers are keeping accurate counts more of a guessing game this early in the year.

Lynn Smith, superintendent for Brewton City Schools, said numbers will continue to fluctuate through Labor Day.

“We always have a fluctuation in our numbers through Labor Day with people coming to school late,” Smith said. “There are a variety of reasons why students don’t make it to school on the first day.”

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Smith said students move in and out of the system throughout the year with many changes seen at the beginning of an academic year.

“I was talking with a bus driver just this week who said two of her students wouldn’t be riding after Friday,” Smith said. “She said the family had said they would be moving.”

In county schools, some classes are seeing increases while others remain steady. Superintendent Billy Hines said Escambia County Schools, as a whole, are seeing steady numbers in most situations.

“We have seen a little increase at W.S. Neal Middle School so far this year,” Hines said. “They are up by about 33 students. They reported 464 this week.”

Hines said W.S. Neal Elementary and W.S. Neal High Schools are basically unchanged compared to last year’s count.

“W.S. Neal Elementary is right where they were last year,” Hines said. “They had a student count of 573 this week. That’s what their student count was last year. At W. S. Neal High School, they are showing a decrease by only about 10 students, with 441 reported this week.”

Hines said, like city schools, the number would fluctuate until Labor Day.

“The first few weeks of school always show numbers increase and decreasing by a few students here and there,” Hines said. “That’s pretty typical until Labor Day. The number of students on campus has been increasing a little over the past week and will probably continue that way until the Labor Day holiday passes.”

Overall, Hines said the county school system is serving approximately the same number of students as were served during the 2009-2010 school year.

“We have reports that show the entire system is serving 4,606 students this week,” Hines said. “That’s up in some places and down in others. Basically I think things will certainly balance out to keep us at about where we were last year.”

County schools include those in East Brewton, Flomaton, Atmore and Huxford.

Atmore area schools, which include A.C. Moore and Rachel Patterson Elementary Schools, Escambia County Middle and High Schools and Huxford Elementary, are showing 1,788 students, Hines said.

Flomaton Elementary, Middle and High Schools and Pollard-McCall Junior High School are showing some changes in enrollment with Flomaton High School showing a sizeable increase in student enrollment, Hines said. Pollard-McCall has seen a decrease of about 16 students so far this year.

Smith said some of the drops in numbers in the city school system could be attributed to the current economic conditions in the area.

“With the economy the way it is there are people who are looking for jobs,” Smith said. “Some of those people will find jobs in other areas that require them to move out of our school district. That sort of thing happens from time to time.”

“There is no way to get an accurate count until everyone shows up for school,” Hines said. “Although we’d like to see every student be in class on the first day of school that just doesn’t happen. A few years ago the State Department of Education changed the way we report student numbers because of that. We now conduct our official student count beginning the first class day following Labor Day. The number of students reported in the 20 days following Labor Day is considered our official school count for the year.”

Both Hines and Smith said the official student counting period is vital to funding for the following school year.