08/28/13 — Numbers are in for first days of school

View Archive

Numbers are in for first days of school

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 28, 2013 1:46 PM

A districtwide Internet outage and busing issues marred an otherwise smooth opening to a new school year for Wayne County Public Schools.

The bulk of students on the traditional calendar returned to class on Monday. Three schools were already in session.

No major changes were made to opening and closing times of the 31 schools this year, but that didn't mean there weren't glitches.

The school district experienced computer problems that delayed data collection of first-day numbers.

The computer server went down Monday afternoon, said Ken Derksen, the schools' director of communications. Some schools were able to input enrollment numbers before that happened, while others were delayed or had to record data by hand.

The state's newly introduced PowerSchool database caused issues for accurately tallying attendance numbers, he said.

"More accurate attendance data was reported for the second day of school, which reflects the district's head count reached 18,351 students," he said. "This time last year, the district had an enrollment of 18,688 students. Over the next eight days of school of the traditional calendar, the 2012-13 enrollment grew to 19,240 students, a trend that is expected to occur again this year."

Across the board, enrollment was down slightly at most of the schools.

The district, ranked the 20th largest in the state out of 115 school systems, normally averages 19,000-plus students.

But that number isn't always seen at the outset, officials say, which is why they closely monitor the daily numbers that lead up to the 10th day. The 10th day is the state's measure that determines teacher needs and student funding.

Likewise, bus route changes will not be made until after Day 10.

Derksen said the transportation department is handling issues that arise with the start of a new school year.

"We had one issue Monday at Spring Creek Elementary, mainly because the bus was late getting there from Spring Creek High," he said, attributing that to a 45-minute delay because the schools share buses. "We sent out a message to parents."

Other concerns, especially about delays and bus stops, are being monitored and handled by the transportation department, he added.

At this point, student enrollment is in line with the same time last year. In 2012, the official first-day head count was 18,347, then 18,351 on the second day.

There were previous years when it had actually been lower. In 2009, for example, the school term began with 18,116, and one of the lowest school starts, in 2007, was 18,098.

Usually, the areas of growth have been in the northern end of the county.

While Charles B. Aycock High School had an increase this year, it was only slight -- from 1,174 in 2012 to 1,183 this year. Norwayne Middle, by contrast, dropped off from 1,049 last year to 972 students.

Feeder elementary schools Northeast and Northwest also had dips this year, from 670 to 655 and 871 to 808, respectively.

Spring Creek schools, meanwhile, started out stronger than the previous year. The elementary school had 926 last year and as of Tuesday, had 933. Its high school reported 942 last year and 965 this year.

Perhaps the largest spike in enrollment this year was at Eastern Wayne High School, from 1,019 last year to 1,060.

Tommy's Road Elementary also had higher numbers this year, with 621 students. Last year the school started with 608.

Several schools in the central attendance area also showed an increase.

Carver Heights Elementary currently has 267 students, compared to 254 this time last year.

Goldsboro High School's numbers climbed from 479 to 508.

Enrollment at Edgewood Community Developmental School also rose, from 113 to 134.

One of the district's newest high schools, Wayne School of Engineering, added more students to its rolls this year, with 410 registered, in contrast to 368 from the year before.