Enrollment soaring at Manatee schools

Start of school year has seen increase of 1,397 students

ataylor@bradenton.comSeptember 8, 2011 

MANATEE -- Schools throughout the district are experiencing record-breaking enrollment, with nearly 1,400 more students enrolled this year.

The start of the school year has brought 44,487 students to Manatee County -- an increase of more than 1,397 over last year’s numbers, said Danny Lundeen, supervisor of student demographics projections and assignment.

“We are very pleased,” Superintendent Tim McGonegal said. “We didn’t have to make a tremendous amount of changes.” The district had originally estimated an increase of 1,000 students.

The official 10-day enrollment count was made on Friday. School officials did not release the specific enrollment counts for each grade level.

Twenty more teachers were hired to accommodate growth and the class size amendment that requires student limits per class at different grade levels. Kindergarten through third-grade classes should have no more than 18 students. Fourth- through eighth-grade classes should be capped at 22 students. And ninth- through 12th-grade classes should have 25 students.

“The 20 additional teachers were scattered between elementary, middle and high school,” Lundeen said.

At the end of 2010-11 school year, there were about 43,090 students. School officials say the enrollment increase falls in line with what they had been projecting.

“It’s a very healthy growth rate,” McGonegal said.

No other reasoning was given to explain the increase during a time when other school districts are seeing enrollment decreases. It’s been reported that Sarasota County’s school district fell about 300 short of what officials anticipated. Pinellas County’s school district, however, lost nearly 1,000 students compared to the 2010-11 school year.

McGonegal said too many factors come into play when considering population fluctuations between school districts.

Charter school enrollment in Manatee also experienced gains. Last school year, more than 2,600 students were enrolled in charter schools. This year, Lundeen said, charter enrollment increased by 149 students.

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