School districts adapt to enrollment increase

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 13, 2000

As school enrollment reaches record highs across the UnitedStates this year, Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools are alsoexperiencing some increases, according to education officials.

The Lincoln County School District and the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict had very little increase this year, but have seen muchgrowth over the last five years.

“Our enrollment this year stayed somewhat stable, but threeyears ago we had a real nice increase,” said Dr. Sam Bounds,superintendent of education in the Brookhaven School District.

The Lincoln County School District saw a small increase overlast year’s enrollment, but the biggest increase came around thesame time as the Brookhaven School District’s growth.

“Over the last four years, Lincoln County has shown a slightincrease of about five percent,” said Perry Miller, the districtsuperintendent of education. “We’re showing a sustained, slowgrowth pattern.”

More than 2,750 students were recorded in the Lincoln CountySchool District this year, compared to around 2,700 during the1997-1998 school year.

The increase has not caused a strain on the school district inthe areas of personnel or adequate space, said Miller.

“The majority of our increase has just been absorbed by existingpersonnel,” said Miller, mentioning the increase did not overwhelmany classes because most classes are already small.

Three teachers were added to the district, however, last yearwhen a class-size reduction grant was awarded to the schooldistrict.

Space has also not been much of a problem for the Lincoln CountySchool District, due partly to several building projects.

“Because of the completion of our recent building program, atthe present time, we have adequate facilities at each school toaccommodate our students,” said Miller.

Building projects in the Brookhaven School District also helpedabsorb the recent increases in student enrollment, according toBounds.

The projects, which have been completed over a six-year period,include several classroom additions at Mamie Martin, BrookhavenElementary and Alexander Junior High.

“All those additions were needed for several purposes,” saidBounds, mentioning the need to upgrade and the increasedenrollment.

The district’s projects were extremely beneficial since themajor increase in enrollment has primarily been seen in theelementary schools.

The district is now preparing for the 250 fourth graders, 272third graders, 264 second graders and 260 first graders to maketheir way to other schools in the district over the next 10years.

Those numbers, compared to 180 seniors and 200 students in thejunior class, show how significant the increase has been inelementary classes, said Bounds.

Brookhaven High School is now undergoing a major constructionand renovation project to prepare for the larger classes that areheaded that way.

“We have built for increased enrollment, so when all theconstruction is completed we will have adequate space,” saidBounds.

The Brookhaven School District, like the Lincoln County SchoolDistrict, has not had to hire many additional teachers to offsetthe increase, but Bounds did note the teacher shortage in Americacould affect the district eventually.

“There is a teacher shortage, and if something’s not done aboutit, every district in the state is going to be affected,” hesaid.

Overall, the increased enrollment has been welcomed by bothschool districts, and the superintendents hope more students willenroll to seek their high school education.