Katara Simmons/News-Sun Students make their way to class Tuesday morning during the second week of school at Hill-Gustat Middle School in Sebring. Overall school enrollment is up this year throughout Highlands County.
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published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Nearly 12,000 students in county
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- The new school year means thousands of local students are getting into a regular routine in the classrooms across the county. But just how many students are bustling through the halls and filling the cafeterias everyday?
The Highlands County School District Management Information Systems (MIS) Department has an answer to that question after only five days into the school year.
School enrollments are up slightly for the current school year. The total number of students enrolled in Highlands County schools is 11,970. Last year's enrollment totaled 11,886.
Students in elementary schools make up just shy of 50 percent of the student population in the county. A total of 5,898 students in kindergarten through fifth grades are enrolled this year. High schoolers come in second for enrollment this year with 3,338 enrolled in the county's three public high schools.
Middle schoolers make up the smallest part of the student enrollment with 2,696 in classes in sixth through eighth grades.
A total of 21 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade are enrolled in Highlands Virtual School.
The county's jail program, hospital homebound and pre-kindergarten disabilities make up the remaining 32 students enrolled in the county.
Lake Placid Elementary still remains the highest enrolled elementary school in the county. The school decreased slightly from 850 to 830 this year, but still houses 92 more students than Cracker Trail in Sebring.
LPE Principal Carey Conners said that the school has become accustomed to the large enrollment numbers.
"We've come down a bit this year. Last year we ended up in the 850s but we didn't start out that way," said Conners. "This year we've started off higher, but we've gotten accustomed to it very quickly."
Conners said that Superintendent Wally Cox has visited the LPE campus once already this school year and is planning to return this week.
"We are tight in some grade levels and we have one grade level that is over. The superintendent is coming back for a visit and we are going to talk about what to do. We don't have a plethora of room here, so I imagine we'll be getting a CTA (certified teaching assistant), but we haven't decided anything yet," Conners said.
Despite the crowded classrooms, Conners is thrilled to be back in the swing of things this school year.
"The first week went great. It's just a busy, busy time for us but we're glad to be back in school," Conners said.
At the secondary level, 705 students pack the hallways at Sebring Middle School, the largest of the four middle schools, though Hill-Gustat trials just behind with 698 students.
Sebring High School has a total of 1,627 students, of which 604 are freshmen this year.
"We've been counting every day since school started. The superintendent has been to every one of the schools checking on enrollment daily. He's staying on top of things," said Human Resources and Recruitment Director Vivianne Waldron.
Waldron said that with the enrollment numbers up and likely to rise a little more, plans are being made to make to ease overcrowded classrooms and fill the 16 vacancies in the district.
"We lost three teachers after week one and we have placed substitutes in those classrooms. There are 109 (new) teachers processed and working in the classrooms. The vacancies we have now are due to increase in enrollment," said Waldron.
Enrollment numbers are not final and may fluctuate until mid-October when districts must report to the Department of Education in Tallahassee.
@Aggravated (by: Dixie - 8/29/2013)
I couldn't agree with you more!!
speaks for itself (by: aggravated - 8/28/2013)
so sad that we have so many children in highlands county, population is rising and still there are no activities,places for children to go...somethings gotta be done....people take their children out of HC to provide some fun..then HC is always crying broke..WAKE UP HC ITS 2013
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