Preliminary enrollment report
According to data in the Lawrence school district’s Unofficial Preliminary Enrollment Report:
• Elementary enrollment (overall): 6,027 students, up 2 percent from a year earlier.
• Biggest elementary school: Lawrence Virtual, 794 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, up 9.7 percent. Langston Hughes is the next biggest, with 520, up 1.6 percent.
• Smallest elementary school: Wakarusa Valley, 194 students, down 10.2 percent.
• Junior high enrollment (overall): 2,489 students, down 0.7 percent.
• Biggest junior high: Southwest, 632 students, down 7.9 percent.
• Smallest junior high: Lawrence Virtual School, 291 students, up 29.9 percent. Central is the next smallest, with 416, down 6.9 percent.
Lawrence and Free State high schools already are making room for incoming ninth-graders next year, as enrollment at the two schools continues to decline.
A report of preliminary enrollment numbers shows that 108 fewer students are attending the two schools compared with this time a year ago — a decline of 4.5 percent and an overall decrease of 11 percent since 2005.
Almost all of this year’s drop has come at Lawrence High, down 105 students from a year ago. The school now has 1,221 students, down 7.9 percent from this time last year.
Free State’s enrollment is off by only three students for this year, but that follows a drop of 98 students a year earlier. The school now has 1,064 students, down 15 percent from 1,252 at the beginning of 2005.
With the Lawrence school district’s ninth-graders poised to move up to high school next year — currently Lawrence’s high schools have 10th- through 12th-graders — administrators aren’t exactly fretting about the decline shown in their preliminary enrollment totals.
“And this year’s eighth-grade class is one of our smaller classes,” said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer. “This is the opportune time to move these grades.”
The preliminary numbers are recorded by administrators, then confirmed with individual schools during the coming weeks. The district will report its official enrollment numbers to the state Sept. 20, and those numbers will be used to calculate just how much money is sent back to the district for operations and other expenses.
So far the district’s overall enrollment appears relatively unchanged: 10,801 as of the end of last week, down just four students from this time a year earlier.
But the high schools are seeing the biggest changes, as they prepare for the upcoming reconfiguration for the 2011-12 school year.
Matt Brungardt, principal at Lawrence High, isn’t worried about the decline recorded so far this year. Preliminary numbers are just that — preliminary — and the district’s early start this year could be complicating numbers that will be adjusted by the time formal numbers get reported to the state.
“It’s not like we’re walking around seeing a bunch of empty desks,” he said.
Brungardt isn’t worried about the inevitable increase lined up to arrive for next year, either. Before Free State opened in 1997, after all, Lawrence High’s enrollment had been as high as 2,200 students across three grades.
Adding another 325 to 375 students next year won’t stretch LHS to its limits.
“I think we can accommodate them,” he said.