09/13/13 — School enrollment up by 115 students as district reports 10-day numbers

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School enrollment up by 115 students as district reports 10-day numbers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 13, 2013 1:46 PM

The 10th day has passed for Wayne County Public Schools, and officials are studying enrollment numbers to determine the need for any reorganization.

Monday was the 10th day of classes, with an increase of 115 students over the previous year.

The 10-day numbers are a benchmark used by the state to assess funding needs and teacher assignments. They also play a part in the transportation department in revamping bus routes.

Each fall, the district monitors the first 10 days of school as the attendance figures vary but have traditionally climbed to the 19,000 mark. Last year's 10th day total enrollment was 19,240. This year it is 19,355.

Three schools showed marked increases this year. Dillard Middle's numbers rose from 600 to 649, while Spring Creek High School had 1,020, up from 975, and Eastern Wayne High School climbed from 1,047 to 1,090.

Schools with the sharpest drop this year were Norwayne Middle, down 54, from 1,061 to 1,007; Carver Elementary, from 654 last year to 622; and Brogden Middle, down from 553 to 526.

While the scenario of reorganization is a "moving target every year," the schools superintendent said he doesn't anticipate a lot of changes being made at the schools at this point.

"Outside of some technology glitches that caused some temporary outages for Internet and phones for our schools, this has been one of the smoothest starts the district has had in recent years," Dr. Steven Taylor said Thursday. "Now that we have reached the 10th day, the district will be taking a close look at attendance data to determine if any allotment changes need to be made in regard to teacher placement.

"After the 10th day, we go back and recalculate the allotment at every school to determine if a teacher should be added or if they go down one or up one, whatever it is. We also have to determine how we will balance out the instructional assistants."

Taylor said he plans to meet with principals to get their input and expects any decisions to be made quickly.

"It may take another week or so. We'll try to do it with the least amount of disruption," he said. "The sooner we do this the better."

The district is, meanwhile, also adjusting to a new database system.

Robert Yancey, director of testing/NC Wise student information, said PowerSchool was introduced in July. Used for daily functions that include enrollment and attendance, it replaces NCWise, which had been in place since 2005.

"With NCWise implementation, it was tiered," he said, explaining that the system was introduced incrementally. "PowerSchool is being implemented all across the state all at one time."

There have already been a few hiccups in the system, he said.

"Mostly it was here-and-there-type problems," he said. "It's always a push to get the 10-day numbers together because you have got kids coming in, coming out. Trying to get that attendance done and trying to figure out who's here and who's not. Then you add onto that a layer of complexity with using the new system. ...

"Things lagged behind a little more than I would have liked. Then on top of that we had our Internet go out."

All in all, though, he said the district is working out any bugs that come with a new piece of software.

"When you have an empty database, it works beautifully but as you start inputting data, having around 19,300-some kids and every child carries with (him) in the ballpark of 1,000 different data components," he said. "You're dealing with a massive amount of information. There's always a lot of room for things not to work as planned."

The PowerSchool model is definitely an improvement, Yancey said.

"First and foremost, it's a more modern system," he said. "NCWise, it was programmed back in the late 1990s if I'm not mistaken. If you think about what technology looked like in the late '90s versus now, PowerSchool is a much more modern application, much sleeker in the way that it operates."

Training was done over the summer with the 31 data managers in the county, one at each school, who in turn replicated the training at their respective schools.