The Forsyth County system has added some 500 students since the first day of the 2013-14 school year, which officials say is a sign that enrollment growth has returned to pre-recession levels.
According to Mike Evans, the district’s director of information and instructional support systems, there were about 40,815 students as of last week. That was up from the nearly 40,300 students in August.
“At the end of the [previous school] year to where we currently are, we are at a 4.7 percent growth,” he said. “And last year for the full year, we were at 4.3 percent growth. So we’re already seeing an increase over last year’s enrollment.”
Last month was the only month since school began where more students left the system than entered. Evans said August, as is typical, saw the highest number of enrollees, at 383.
And Evans expects January, the second highest enrollment month, to be busy. To date, 36 new students have registered and another 26 appointments have been scheduled to register before classes resume Jan. 7. School lets out for the holidays on Dec. 20.
Evans said January is a good time for parents to transfer students from one school system to the other.
“They can finish off a complete semester, a complete term, where they are,” he said. “Families are marking it as a break in the school year ... if they have the ability to complete a semester, they can get their end of course exam in to finish off the term.”
Not every family is so fortunate to start new jobs, or make major moves over the winter break. That’s why September saw the system add 257 students. It welcomed another 294 in October, in addition to losing some to other counties and states.
The 500-some new arrivals have resulted in a staff increase, according to Candy Norton, chief human resources officer.
Since the school year began, 14 new teaching positions and 9.5 special education positions have been added to the system’s payroll, she said.
“We project the number of children that we think we’ll have in school through approximately the first part of December ... and we try to staff based on those numbers,” Norton said.
“We tend to make a very, very conservative staffing projection because we do not want to over-hire.”
While it may lead to some issues in staffing, Norton said the growth is a “delightful challenge because we have great teachers that want to work in our school system.”
The growth is also a good thing for the school district, said Superintendent Buster Evans. It provides opportunities, as well as struggles.
“It is amazing how quickly it occurred this year, particularly in south Forsyth. However, we do have challenges such as overcrowding and reduced revenue,” Evans said.
“We know that the schools, which along with other county services and resources, provide a high quality of life that is attractive to many families with children and also businesses that are seeking an employable work force.”