By Ashley Goodus – WUFT-FM
With the new school year comes new classes, new friendships and new class size numbers. But for some school districts, unexpected students also show up with a new year.
In Alachua County, the number of students enrolled in school this year is higher than expected, said Jackie Johnson, public information officer for the county’s public schools.
“We are actually above our projections,” Johnson said. “Our 10 day count was just above 24,000 students — that’s about 135 students more than we were expecting for this school year, but we are still pretty close.”
In comparison to last years enrollment numbers, Johnson said some counts have not yet been taken and that they will have a better idea of what the numbers actually look like within the next few weeks.
“It’s hard to tell, because these numbers do not include our pre-kindergarten students, students in charter schools and students in some of our special centers,” she said. “Those counts are conducted a little bit later, so we’ll have a better idea of where we are compared to last year in the next few weeks.”
The schools saw an increase in the number of students at the high school level, and a decrease at the elementary level.
“We really can’t tell what has caused that, it could be people moving into the district, but it is really hard to pinpoint where those extra students are coming from,” Johnson said.
School districts tend to be cautious when hiring teachers to accomodate shifting demand, often not making final personnel decisions until a few days into the new school year.
“We don’t want to hire teachers and then let them go,” Johnson said. This year, Alachua had to shift five instructors to other schools, which Johnson said is typical.
Teachers aren’t the only ones that are shuffled as enrollments solidify.
During the first few weeks of school, there’s a possibility that students could be moved into different classes to accomodate students who registered late. However, Johnson says this is nothing out of the ordinary and they try to be as flexible as possible. She says they hope that students will not be affected by these changes.
The official classroom tally, or the numbers that are reported to the State of Florida, doesn’t happen until October.