This is the time of year we begin looking at what we need to do to prepare for the next school year. It doesn’t seem possible that it is time to begin looking ahead. We have experienced steady enrollment growth in our school corporation. We have seen the start of new neighborhoods, the expansion of existing neighborhoods and students who are coming to us from outside of the district lines.
With the growth in student enrollment, we have been able to add staff members, lower class sizes district-wide and add academic programming at certain grade levels. Several years ago, when the economy saw a drop and student enrollment declined, Southern Hancock Schools had to evaluate district needs and declining funds. We had to reduce staff and cut certain programs. It is exciting to be in a position to be adding staff and programs back into our school.
We have, on average, the lowest elementary school class sizes district-wide than we have seen in several years. Most of our elementary classes are now averaging about 23-24 kids. There are a couple of grade levels that are being monitored closely, and staff will be added when growth dictates the need.
One of the most common questions we get in the district office is regarding our plans to open the “old Doe Creek”. We remain steadfast in our answer. We will open the old Doe Creek building when our enrollment growth provides the necessary funding. As our student population grows, we are closer to being in a position to open that building. We hope to see continued student growth.
That said, on February 6, our new out-of-district transfer packet will be posted. A review of applications will begin on March 6. Placement of out-of-district students is first-come, first-serve and students will be placed based on class size and capacity. We will accept students until we are at grade level capacity. Last year, we closed the out-of-district transfer process before school started. We reached capacity quickly. We re-opened the process in October, but only in certain grade levels where space had become available.
We intend to monitor this process closely as we did last year. Our goal in this process is to welcome students into our district when space is available. We will not compromise the size of our classes.
Many are interested in our school district. We are an excellent school corporation with a reputation for strong academics, competitive athletic teams and a commitment to the arts. We focus on educating the “whole” child and are dedicated to student success in all areas. We have much to be proud of, and it is exciting to see the growth in enrollment!