Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

USD 232 squeezed

Initial count finds enrollment spike of 211 students

August 24, 2006

Growth in De Soto USD 232 appears to have slackened somewhat from past years, but it is still impressive.

An early head count of students shows a total enrollment of 5,670 students. That's an increase from 5,124 students one year ago, still impressive but down from the 300-plus increases of the early years of this decade.

However, administrators expect those numbers will change before the official student count Sept. 20, which determines the district's general fund and throughout the year with population increases.

De Soto High School reports about 500 students; Lexington Trails Middle School reports 483 students; Starside Elementary School has an estimated 512 students; and Mize Elementary School has 593 students. Those numbers could change after the beginning of the school year, district communications director Alvie Cater said.

Lexington Trails Middle School Principal Mark Schmidt said the school is up about 20 students this year.

"But nine years ago, we had 260 kids," he said. "Now we're almost 500 -- that's quite a bit of growth."

Schmidt said LTMS benefited more from bond issues than some other schools and was OK on space for now. With boundary changes, about 45 percent of LTMS students come from Mize Elementary School and 55 percent from Starside Elementary. LTMS boundaries and those for De Soto High School include all of the district west of Kansas Highway 7, so Schmidt said a slight growth in numbers meant not all growth was in Shawnee.

"People are moving into the De Soto area," he said. "We're seeing some growth of brand new folks."

De Soto High School Principal Dave Morford said this year's freshman class was the largest since the high school split, with 145 reported students. Following a trend throughout the district, classes decrease in size as they increase in grade level. There are 134 sophomores, 102 juniors and 114 seniors.

Starside will have four sections at each grade level and five for half-day kindergarten students. Mize will have six sections each for kindergarten and first grade, four sections for second grade, five sections for third grade and four sections each for fourth and fifth grade.

It's a different story on the east side of the district, where Monticello Trails Middle School reports 754 students and Mill Valley High School reports 913 students. All of the east side elementary schools have enrollments of 600 students or more.

The opening of Mill Creek Middle School and the unnamed elementary school at 71st Street will help alleviate some of the overcrowding problems. They're set to open next year.

Mill Valley High School Principal Joe Novak said this year's freshman class was one of the largest at 266 students.

"I've converted two rooms that weren't classrooms," he said. "I've begged and borrowed furniture from every nook and cranny we could find, but we're having school."

Novak said the biggest challenge inside the school was keeping students in line while changing classes throughout the day.

"We truly have to be traffic cops inside the building," he said. "When kids stop at their lockers, it's kind of like plaque building up on an artery. We have to be vigilant. I'm always so amazed at the patience levels of these kids."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.