• District growing from the bottom up
BROOKINGS – By an end-of-August count, the Brookings School District is 60 students larger than it was at the end of September last year. This increase follows an even larger bump of 90 students last August over the year prior.
The growth came as no surprise to school administrators, who use a dependable equation to project enrollment before the year begins.
“That’s what we had anticipated; that’s what we actually projected, and that’s what we used when we worked out our budget,” Superintendent Roger DeGroot said this morning.
DeGroot said this initial count may go down slightly before an official fall enrollment is submitted to the state in the last week of September. Some high school students attend school part-time, which can change the count, he said.
But the district has been consistently growing from the bottom up: graduating smaller classes than it takes in. For instance, Brookings High graduated 161 students this past May, and this year’s kindergarten class counts 262. This year’s junior and senior classes are still under 200 – 191 and 165, respectively – but after, that every grade in the district includes more than 200 students.
With large classes in the elementary grades, the school board is hoping to soon build a third school for grades K-3.
“Two years from now we’re projecting to have 309 kindergarten kids come in, and that’s bigger than we’ve ever had in Brookings,” DeGroot said. “I think our biggest class has been probably around 280. If we have that 309 coming in, that will be a crunch, to say the least.”
The board is especially concerned that lack of classroom space will force it to put more and more students into each classroom. During its monthly meeting this Monday, the school board created a new para-educator job at Medary Elementary School. Board members and administrators would have liked to create another first-grade class there instead, DeGroot said, but it does not have a room in which to put that class.
In total, 2,989 students are now enrolled in Brookings schools: 1,530 in grades K-5, 645 in middle school and 814 in high school. This includes:
• Early childhood special education: 32
• K: 262
• 1st: 272
• 2nd: 253
• 3rd: 245
• 4th: 256
• 5th: 242
• 6th: 215
• 7th: 225
• 8th: 205
• 9th: 238
• 10th: 220
• 11th: 191
• 12th: 165
Notably, kindergarten enrollment is down by 22 students this fall, but first grade is up by the same number. Fifth grade is up by 31 students from last August; seventh grade is up by 21, eighth grade is down by 18 and 10th grade is up by 25 students.
According to notes from Monday’s board meeting, 21 students have open-enrolled into the district this year.
Contact Charis Prunty at firstname.lastname@example.org.