Enrollment growing at Vermillion schools

Enrollment growing at Vermillion schools
Students numbers are on the upswing in Vermillion's public schools – a trend that's seen as both a sign of growing stability in the community and a reflection of the excellent educational opportunities offered by the Vermillion School District.

The district isn't being overwhelmed by the significantly large kindergarten class predicted by projections made last spring.

Kindergartners, however, do outnumber all other students at Austin Elementary School.

"We were expecting quite a number in kindergarten, and we didn't see those numbers transpire," Dr. Mark Froke, superintendent of schools, said. "We have 114 (kindergarten) children, which is very close to the number of first grade students there, at 112."

There are 91 second-graders enrolled in Austin's second grade, bringing the current total of students at Austin to 316.

Class sizes at Austin are unreasonably large, Froke added, despite the higher influx of young students.

"The average class size in the primary grades at Austin range from 17 to 20," he said. "There's a range at Jolley Elementary from 22 to 24 with the older children.

There aren't as many peaks and valleys in the enrollment trends at Jolley Elementary. Each of the three grades there has nearly the same number of students.

"We have 93 in third grade, 86 in fourth grade and 91 students in fifth grade at Jolley Elementary," Froke told the Vermillion School Board Monday.

Total enrollment at the Vermillion Middle School achieves a peak with the incoming sixth-graders, and declines in the other two grades there.

Class numbers in the middle school's sixth grade are 114. The seventh grade class is slightly smaller, at 104, and that trend continues, with an enrollment of 97 in the eighth grade.

The youngest and the oldest students students at Vermillion High School are outnumbered by pupils enrollments in the school's two middle grades.

There are 104 new freshman getting acquainted with high school life right now.

They are outnumbered by more experienced sophomores and juniors, whose class sizes each total 116.

If Vermillion should experience an ideal situation and have no currently enrolled senior class members drop out before the end of the school year, 95 students would receive diplomas at commencement exercises next spring.

"District-wide, we have a total of 1,332 students in our regular education program, kindergarten through grade 12," Froke said. "That is up from our average daily membership of last year of 1,287. It's a positive picture on the enrollment side at this point, but you have to remember that we may slide back (in enrollment numbers) as the year goes for a variety of reasons, but we're starting out on a positive side."

Vermillion School Board President Nick Merrigan said it's becoming evident that Austin Elementary may be starting to feel the strain of the enrollment boost.

"During the tour we took on Friday, the crowding at Austin was quite evident," he said. "We have people in every closet ? and Mr. Upward and Mr. Bowker are looking at the possibility of a temporary classroom that they might be able to utilize maybe for art or something else.

"It's full at Austin, and hopefully it will be full for a long time," he added.

The school district currently has 31 children enrolled in its early childhood program. Thirteen are in the birth to 3-year-old class; the remaining 18 children are in the 3-year-old to 5-year-old class.

Twenty-six students in the Vermillion district are home schooled.

And while some students choose to leave the Vermillion School District to attend neighboring schools through open enrollment, that program brings in more students to the district than are lost.

Forty-seven students who live in other districts are being educated in the Vermillion district.

At the same time, 25 students who reside in the local district have open-enrolled to other schools.

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