Student bodies expand

School district numbers are up

Photo by Jill Pickett
Students fill the hallways Thursday at Central Hardin High School as they move to new classrooms. Enrollment at Central Hardin grew the most among Hardin County Schools.

The News Enterprise
September 5, 20100
By KELLY R. CANTRALL

Area school systems are enrolling new students almost daily, but officials say so far they've been able to handle the population boom.

Hardin County Schools, Elizabethtown Independent Schools and Fort Knox Community Schools all have seen a large influx of students for the past few years, thanks in part to the BRAC transition at Fort Knox.

The districts are handling the growth they've received, either because space already was available or because of accommodations made for the population growth.

Hardin County Schools' enrollment was at 14,259 in mid-August, up from the ending day enrollment of 13,944 for the 2009-2010 school year.

This school year follows another year of large growth for HCS. The district has grown by more than 400 students after the 2008-2009 year ended with 13,536 students. Recent years prior to 2008 brought enrollment increases of 100 to 200 students.

The majority of schools saw individual enrollment increases as well. Some schools' enrollment decreased, including elementary schools in the northern part of the county that lost students to the new North Park Elementary School.

Nannette Johnston, superintendent of Hardin County Schools, said some county schools are tight for space, but everyone is managing as well as possible.

"Right now we're holding our own," Johnston said.

She said plans put in place, including grade reconfiguration of the north-end schools, have succeeded in giving schools more breathing room.

"We're able to stay ahead of the growth in the best possible way," she said.

Johnston said the future will include redistricting to balance school populations, but not for another few years as area newcomers settle into permanent homes.

Fort Knox Community Schools had enrolled 2,545 students by the beginning of September, an increase of 268 students from this point last year, Superintendent Todd Curkendall said.

The district's enrollment had been on the decline since the early 1990s, and it once was up to about 4,000 students, so there is room for the new growth, he said. This year's increase has not been as large as last year's, either.

"It's really gone pretty well," he said.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools also has seen a large increase. The district had 2,402 students as of Aug. 27, which is an increase of 164 students, excluding preschool. It's about a 7 percent increase in students, compared to its typical 1 to 2 percent growth, said Nathan Huggins, director of district support services and student services.

Each school has gained anywhere from 30 to 45 students.

Gary French, EIS superintendent, said the schools still are under capacity. The district has been fortunate that the growth has been across all grades, which has spread it out among its four buildings.

French said he encouraged his staff to see the increase in students as a testament to parents wanting their children educated in the district's schools.

"On opening day, I told the teachers we were going to welcome this growth," he said.

By the numbers

Largest and smallest schools in the three local districts, based on enrollment numbers from the first few weeks of the school year.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools
Elizabethtown High School: 769
Helmwood Heights Elementary School: 495

Fort Knox Community Schools
Van Voorhis Elementary School: 493
Mudge Elementary School: 155

Hardin County Schools
Central Hardin High School: 1,846
Howevalley Elementary School: 224

Kelly R. Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.

This story, written by Kelly R. Cantrall, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.