09/16/12 — School count is down overall

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School count is down overall

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 16, 2012 1:50 AM

The first 10 days of schools have come and gone, with Wayne County Public Schools' officials now tasked with determining where any program or personnel changes need to be made.

Friday, the central office announced its preliminary findings -- five additional teachers will need to be hired.

"Before the school year begins, the district conservatively allots the number of staff at each school based on past enrollment figures," said Ken Derksen, public information officer for WCPS. "Retirements and resignations also create vacancies at schools, which are sometimes left unfilled until allotments are determined.

"This year, even though the district-wide enrollment is slightly down, one teacher allotment needs to be added at Brogden Middle, one at Carver Elementary and three at Tommy's Road Elementary."

Derksen noted that in the area where the additional elementary allotments occurred, the district cannot exceed class sizes in grades K-3. He also said that at Grantham School, two vacancies will remain unfilled due to the school's drop in overall enrollment. The school had 922 students in 2011 and now has 872.

For the most part, Derksen said, the school year, which officially kicked off Aug. 27, started on a good note. The biggest glitch, he said, was in the area of transportation, as a dearth of bus drivers resulted in late arrivals and scrambling to double up on buses at several schools.

The situation resulted in last-minute changes to start times at four area schools -- Spring Creek elementary and middle schools as well as Carver Elementary and Mount Olive Middle -- to allow for shared buses.

The 10-day numbers, used by the state to assess funding needs and teacher assignments, are also used in mapping out bus routes.

"Our staff is in the process of looking at parent requests for bus stop changes," Raymond Smith, transportation director, said. "We are also continuing to seek applications for new drivers as well as working with schools impacted by the driver shortage to ensure student transportation services are maintained.

District enrollment historically looms around 19,000.

On the first day of school, the official head count for the 31 schools was 18,347, up slightly from 18,296 the previous year.

By Day 10, which was Sept. 10, the numbers were at 19,240, or 66 fewer than 2011.

Charles B. Aycock High School continues to lead the pack, up from 1,143 students this time last year, to 1,184.

Eastern Wayne Middle also had an increase over last year's 605 students, with 628. The elementary and high schools in that district, however, showed a decline.

Eastern Wayne High had 1,072 students by the tenth day in 2011 and this week had 1,047. The elementary school had 809 enrolled last year, with 783 currently.

Across the board, most hovered in the same range as previous head count, while a number showed dips to the number of students registered.

Carver Heights Elementary numbers dropped from 305 to 293, while Dillard Middle, which had 614 last year, has 600. Goldsboro High, meanwhile, also dropped slightly, from 541 to 513.

Greenwood Middle also showed a decline, from 549 to 522.

In the northern end of the county, which has experienced high population growth in recent years, several schools' numbers fell.

Northeast Elementary had 714 students enrolled last year, now has 684; Northwest Elementary went from 903 students to 880; and Norwayne Middle, at 1,099 in 2011, had 1,061 enrolled this week.