09/17/06 — Numbers rising at private schools

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Numbers rising at private schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 17, 2006 2:01 AM

Enrollment numbers are up this year at some area private schools, officials say.

Private schools have typically had smaller numbers, making the increases appear more significant.

While officials at Faith Christian Academy said the enrollment is about the same as last year, Wayne Country Day School has 55 new students on the rolls and Wayne Christian School shows an increase of 31 students.

Barbara Ann Vinson, director of development and marketing at Wayne Country Day, said the school has 242 students this year. Enrollment in the lower school, grades one through six, is up by 30 percent over the same time last year, from 77 students to 96.

Upper school enrollment is up 12 percent. Last year, there were 102 students in grades 7 through 12. This year there are 108.

"It's just been dribbling in since school started," she said. "We have picked up a couple a week. We're still expecting a few more to come in this month."

The school year at Wayne Country Day began nearly two weeks before the public schools, on Aug. 14, which might be a contributing factor to the staggered numbers, she said.

"I think people weren't really thinking school because it was so early," she said.

Despite being a smaller school, Mrs. Vinson said it is getting more and more diversified, boasting students from Korea, Greece, England, India and Ethiopia.

The school's application includes a question about why parents choose to send their student to the school. Responses vary, Mrs. Vinson said.

"I don't think there's one thing that sticks out," she said.

For some parents, though, in addition to the academic program, it is important to send their children to a school that reinforces the family's belief system.

"The main reason (given) for our school is because it's a Christian school, and parents are looking for that," said Sharon McNeese, secretary at Faith Christian Academy.

The K4 through grade 12 school enrollment hovers near last year's figure of 370, with 365 students at present, she said.

At Wayne Christian School, parents have said they preferred to have their children in a private school, administrative assistant Kim Anderson said.

"They just tell us that they didn't want them in public school," she said. "Especially middle school. Our sixth grade we had to close because we couldn't hold any more, fourth grade, too."

Ms. Anderson said the school can only take 20 per class, prompting several grades to be closed to applications.

"K4 we're full, I think we have one spot, third grade only has one spot. We're close in several areas this year," she said. "The high school has a lot come in, too."

But the school also lost about 60 students this year, she added, partially due to military moves and some attributed to parents only putting K4 students in for one year to get a head start on school.

This year, though, the school retained half of its K4 students who carried over, she said.

At the school, there are 438 students from K4 through 12th grade.

Comparatively, school records showed there were 254 students in K4 through sixth grade last year, with 279 at present. The high school had 149 last year and has added 10 students.

"We did wonderful this year. It was an awesome thing to see, but we did have a lot of parents that didn't want to put their kids in public schools," she said, adding that parents didn't necessarily specify a reason.

Gaining additional students means the school has experienced an unexpected growth spurt, Ms. Anderson said. As one result, the chapel had to be converted into two classrooms as a result.

"We're still taking applications in the grades that we can," she said. "We're having our little growing pains right now trying to figure out what to do but it's a good problem to have."