Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Enrollment soaring again at local schools

August 9, 2006

It's happening again.

Tonganoxie school enrollment wrapped up early this week, and officials report jumps in the number of students.

Principals at all three Tonganoxie schools -- elementary, junior high and high school -- reported that enrollment numbers look to be on the rise.

The biggest increase is expected at Tonganoxie Elementary, which in recent years has been one of the largest elementary schools in Kansas.

At the end of school last May, TES had roughly 860 students, according to Principal Jerry Daskoski. As of Monday, Daskoski was projecting 899 students, judging by the number of students who moved away, new students and changes in class sizes.

For instance, last year's sixth-grade class had a whopping 155 students, but the new kindergarten class, which has hovered around 120 in recent years, is at 142.

Daskoski said "graduating" that sixth-grade to the junior high was a "relief as far as space goes."

But the incoming kindergarten class, which the principal said is Tonganoxie's largest ever in that grade, negates that.

"I always look at this as a good problem," Daskoski said. "This is good news, that we have so many new students. The last thing you would want would be for it to go the other way."

Daskoski later classified the situation as a "challenge," rather than a problem.

Some factors, though, should make the challenge easier to handle:

  • During the summer, the school board approved an additional kindergarten teacher, as well as an additional second-grade teacher.
  • The school's volunteer center, is being renovated to create additional classroom space for the 2006-2007 school year.
  • And, when the second semester begins in January, fourth- through sixth-graders will move into the new middle school on Washington Street, along with seventh- and eighth-graders. That will create more room for a K-4 elementary school.

Daskoski said he didn't have any concerns about having about 900 students in the building through December because of those changes.

"And the whole caveat in this is the December move," Daskoski said.

Without the new middle school, the school likely would have to place more mobile units outside the building.

"Then it's like, we'd have to put them on the playground," the principal said. "You're shooting yourselves in the foot. That many children certainly need places for recess outdoors."

More definite enrollment numbers for all Tonganoxie schools should be known after the first week of school is completed later this month. And Tonganoxie schools won't report official enrollment numbers to the state until Sept. 20.

Tonganoxie Junior High

TJHS principal Steve Woolf remembers a time at the junior high when a row of lockers in the middle of the building were vacant because there weren't enough students to use them.

My, how times have changed.

Woolf recently ordered 30 lockers to meet increased demands.

Last year, the junior high had between 400 and 425 students. But this year, he said, "I'd be shocked if we're not at 450," he said.

Woolf said some people moving into the school district have corporate jobs in Kansas City, Mo., but they shopped around and picked Tonganoxie as a place to live and send their children to school.

"That's an honor to have people choose us," Woolf said.

Tonganoxie High School

Like Daskoski and Woolf, THS principal Tatia Shelton is expecting more students in her building.

"We're going to be larger in numbers for sure," Shelton said. "Definitely over 400."

That's more than 400 students in 10th through 12th grades. Last spring, THS had 422 students enrolled.

Shelton estimated that there would be an increase of about 25 students when classes begin late next week. But guessing final enrollment numbers is difficult.

"That's based on who was here last spring," Shelton said. "Of course we could lose some kids and we could gain some."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.