Lawrence school district is opening the academic year with a wave of new students.
Whether the tide of fresh faces recedes remains to be seen.
“It’s still early,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent. “These (numbers) are so fluid at this point. We’re still cleaning up the (enrollment) system to make sure all the old kids are out of the system and all the new kids are in. So we’re still working on that.
“But it does appear that it’s up slightly, which is good news.”
As of Tuesday, during the first full week of the 2011-12 school year, the district reported having 11,250 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The totals include students from throughout Kansas attending the Lawrence Virtual School.
The district’s unofficial enrollment total is up by 526 students, or 4.9 percent, from the comparable date for 2010-11, an academic year that had started with 81 fewer students than the previous year.
If the increase holds up — districts report their official headcounts Sept. 20 to the Kansas State Department of Education — the district would receive more money from the state, as calculated using a statewide financing formula.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Doll said.
One positive trend indicated by the unofficial tallies, he said: The enrollment gap between Lawrence and Free State high schools is shrinking.
Lawrence High remains the larger of the two schools. It reported having 1,537 students, or 32 more than Free State’s 1,505; at this time last year, Lawrence High had 159 more students, a difference spread over only three grade levels.
Helping Free State catch up this year: A freshman class of 377 students, 24 more than Lawrence High. And last year’s seniors — Lawrence High had 72 more 12th-graders at this time last year — now are off the books.
Lawrence Virtual School remains the district’s largest elementary school, with 684 students.
Of the 14 other elementaries — all for kindergarten through fifth grade because the sixth grade is in reconfigured middle schools — Sunflower is the largest, with 497 students. That’s an increase of 27, after adding students from Wakarusa Valley School, which closed at the end of last year.
Also increasing from last year, after gaining former Wakarusa Valley students: Broken Arrow School, which has 310 students in six grades, compared with 280 last year in seven.
All other elementaries, after losing their sixth-grade classes, reported enrollment declines.
All four middle schools — Liberty Memorial Central, South, Southwest and West — reported overall gains.
The virtual school recorded enrolled 1,083 students this year in grades K-8, up by 86 students, or 8.6 percent, for the same levels at this time last year.